Creation of Regional Habitat Cover Maps: Application of the Northeast Terrestrial Habitat Classification System

upland, wetland, ecological systems, plant community, habitat classification

The Northeast Terrestrial Habitat Mapping Project was undertaken in 2008 with the support of this Regional Conservation Needs grant.  Development of a consistent habitat classification framework and map was seen by many Northeastern biologists and managers as the most critical initiative for habitat-based conservation efforts.  The purpose of this mapping effort is to provide a common framework and language for conservation planning and wildlife management across jurisdictional borders.  Specifically, the Northeast Terrestrial Habitat Classification System (NETHCS) and this map aim to: provide a standardized and consistent habitat and ecosystem classification at multiple scales across states;  facilitate interstate communication about habitats;  offer managers a tool for understanding regional biodiversity patterns; and allow for more effective and efficient habitat conservation across the region, including the prioritization of habitat conservation activities.

The Terrestrial Habitat Map was recently completed in the Eastern Conservation Science (ECS) office of The Nature Conservancy's Eastern Region.  It is a 30 meter grid that maps upland and wetland wildlife habitats/ecological systems for the Northeast, including all 13 states from Maine to Virginia, west to New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  The ecological systems represented in the map are mosaics of plant community types that tend to co-occur within landscapes with similar ecological processes, substrates, and/or environmental gradients, in a pattern that repeats itself across landscapes.  Systems occur at various scales, from "matrix" forested systems of thousands of hectares to small patch systems, such as cliffs, basin wetlands, or barrens on a particular bedrock type, of a hectare or two.

The map and data are available below and here.

Progress Reports

Project Leader

Name: Mark G. Anderson, Ph.D.

Title: Director of Conservation Science, Eastern U.S.

Organization: The Nature Conservancy, Eastern Region


Address: 99 Bedford Street, 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02111

Phone: 617-532-8354

Fax: 617-532-8400

Other Principal Investigators

Name: Charles Ferree, MS

Title: Landscape Ecologist

Organization: The Nature Conservancy, Eastern Region


Address: 99 Bedford St, 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02111

Phone: 617-532-8350

Fax: 617-532-8400

Name: Lesley Sneddon, MS

Title: Senior Regional Ecologist East

Organization: NatureServe


Address: c/o University of Massachusetts at Boston, Biology Department, 100 Morrissey Blvd. Boston, MA 02125

Phone: 617-287-7583

Name: Susan C. Gawler, Ph.D.

Title: Regional Vegetation Ecologist East - Retired

Organization: NatureServe