From the elegant rolling dunes of Cape Cod to the forested peaks of the Berkshires, Massachusetts is a state graced with a wide range of landscapes. While we value these exceptional places for their natural beauty, they are also home to diverse ecosystems that support rare and vulnerable species.
Currently, these ecosystems and species face both understood and unpredicted dangers. Climate change, development, invasive species, and pollution all pose serious threats to the biodiversity of Massachusetts.
In light of these concerns, The Nature Conservancy’s Massachusetts Chapter and the Massachusetts Department of Fish & Game’s Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program (NHESP) collaborated to produce BioMap2, a strategic conservation road map rooted in scientific research and conservation biology.
BioMap2 is a statewide plan for conserving the most important habitats and ecosystems in Massachusetts. It incorporates the latest concepts of ecological resilience in the context of a changing climate. This comprehensive, multi-scale conservation plan will protect not only current biodiversity, but also ensure healthy ecosystems for the future.
“BioMap2 will guide conservation efforts around a unified vision for lasting and effective protection of the Commonwealth’s most important habitats and landscapes,” said Andy Finton, the Conservancy’s Director of Science and Conservation in Massachusetts. Now, federal, state, and local organizations are able to utilize BioMap2 to inform crucial conservation decisions and funding.
Finton and his staff used GIS-mapping data to identify the largest and most intact forests, wetlands, rivers, and coastal systems. Those ecosystems are the most likely to support wildlife and biodiversity over long time frames, in the face of changing climate, and other threats. The research complied by Finton and his staff complements NHESP’s 30-year database of rare species habitats.
Based on advanced conservation biology principles, rigorous data collection, and sophisticated mapping technology, the targeted areas in BioMap2 are divided into two categories: Core Habitats and Critical Natural Landscapes.
As its name might suggest, the lands and waters classified as Core Habitat include habitats of rare, vulnerable, and uncommon species; along with crucial wetlands, rivers, forests, and coastal systems. Accompanying Core Habitats, Critical Natural Landscape identifies a broad range of intact and well-connected landscapes in Massachusetts that are better able to support ecological processes and withstand natural disturbances over long time frames.
Together, the areas highlighted in Core Habitat and Critical Natural Landscape indicate a network of key places that are crucial to protect for Massachusetts’ biodiversity and resilience to climate change.
BioMap2 is a statewide assessment that provides a clear pathway to successful biodiversity conservation. Massachusetts conservation organizations, state agencies, and municipalities are using BioMap2 to inform land protection decisions. This year marked the release of individualized reports to Massachusetts’ 351 cities and towns to complement statewide maps and reports.
The BioMap2 website includes an interactive map that allows viewers to zoom into their local area of interest - whether it’s a town, favorite hiking or bird watching spot, or state park - and understand which BioMap2 habitats and ecosystems are represented.
The site also includes a downloadable BioMap2 summary report, town reports for the Commonwealth’s 351 cities and towns, and a technical report for those interested.
BioMap2 town reports for each of Massachusetts' 350 cities and towns are now available, featuring maps and destriptions of important species, natural communities and other features. See the town reports.