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Seeing Green: How to Identify Conservation Priorities Near You

A key step in protecting natural resources is to identify those areas that are important to conserve. The concept of green infrastructure aims to do just that—it’s a strategically planned and managed network of natural lands, open spaces, wildlife habitats, parks, and other assets that serve plant and animal species while at the same time absorbing air pollution and filtering and cleaning our water.

Through Esri's National Green Infrastructure Initiative, you can explore an area’s conservation potential through applications that can be customized to align with the values that matter most to you. Along with local data, this information can be used to identify your community’s most important natural assets, to detect areas at greatest risk of being lost, to locate degraded areas that can be restored, and to further enhance a landscape’s function by connecting fragmented natural areas.

Mapping conservation potential

Green areas depicted below represent unique, intact natural “cores,” or patches of natural land at least 100 acres in size and 200 meters wide. They are currently ranked with an emphasis placed on biodiversity but can be refined to emphasize 21 landscape characteristics unique to each, including variables such as topographic diversity, endemic species counts, and the rarity of each core’s ecology. White areas represent human-modified lands (urban or agricultural) or natural areas of smaller size.

Lower
Higher        
Existing protected area

SOURCE: ESRI; DATA FOR CONTINENTAL U.S. ONLY

The December issue of National Geographic magazine includes a poster that visually depicts Esri's unique habitat data and shows how one U.S. county used the information to facilitate green planning initiatives. (Habitat rarity is just one of many factors that can be highlighted.) Zoom in to explore both sides of the special supplement poster below, or download the PDF.

For more information on how to tailor data to your community, visit Esri's National Green Infrastructure Initiative.

EDITORS: JON BOWEN and DEBBIE GIBBONS; DESIGN: Hannah Tak; MAP PRODUCTION: JON Bowen and DEBBIE GIBBONS; MAP EDIT: scott zillmer TEXT: EVE CONANT RESEARCH: SHELLEY SPERRY; 3-D MAP RENDERING BY INTERNATIONAL MAPPING
SOURCES: KAREN FIREHOCK, GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE CENTER; Michael P. Hein, Office of the ULSTER County Executive; AMANDA LAVALLE, ULSTER COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT

EDITOR: JON BOWEN. DESIGN: Hannah Tak; TEXT: EVE CONANT. RESEARCH: SHELLEY SPERRY; MAP PRODUCTION: JON Bowen and THEODORE A. SICKLEY; GRAPHICS: Daisy chung. MAP EDIT: SCOTT ZILLMER
SOURCES: JOCELYN AYCRIGG, UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO; ESRI; THE NATURE CONSERVANCY; USGS PROTECTED AREAS DATABASE OF THE UNITED STATES

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