Preserving Species Diversity: GIS helps New York Screen Projects for Potential Impacts

ny_biodiversity_1…from the Fall 2009 issue of ArcUser

“The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has developed a custom GIS application that assists its staff in preserving biodiversity in the state by answering spatial questions related to threatened and endangered species.

“There is increasing concern over the loss of biodiversity. Species are declining or becoming extinct at a greater rate than at any other time in the history of life on earth. Today, many species are severely threatened by the reduction of available habitat caused by changing land use. This leads to the isolation of these species’ populations and higher mortality rates for them.

“This threat has become increasingly problematic in New York’s Lower Hudson Valley/Catskill Region. In this unique area of the state, several ecozones are clustered in a relatively small geographic area. The region’s diverse habitat types support a correspondingly high degree of wildlife diversity with 90 percent of the more than 400 birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians native to New York found in this 4,700-square-mile area. Fifteen of these species are either threatened or endangered and classed as Listed Species.”