BioMap2: An Important Resource to Guide CPA Projects for the Protection of Birds, Fish and Wildlife

October 2011: Since CPA was enacted in 2001, communities have used CPA funds to protect over 17,000 acres of natural landscape throughout the Commonwealth — including forest, grasslands, marshes, agricultural fields, wetlands, coastal lands and more.

There are many different reasons that communities choose to protect open space. Some municipalities wish to permanently protect a scenic view. Other communities want to create or preserve opportunities for passive recreation, such as hiking or horseback riding. Many communities choose to protect open space in order to safeguard the birds, fish, and other wildlife that depend on these natural lands to thrive. There are many reasons to use CPA funds to proect the wildlife habitat and natural communities in your municipality -- just a few of the economic, social, and ecological benefits are listed below. 

If your community is interested in using CPA open space funds to protect important habitat areas, there is a new resource that can help you identify which areas are a priority for protection: BioMap2. Released in November 2010, BioMap2 is a tool to help municipalities guide strategic conservation by mapping the areas that are most critical for ensuring the long-term success of the Commonwealth’s natural communities. BioMap2 was developed by the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, and the Nature Conservancy.

Using BioMap2, communities can locate the two types of open space in their municipality that are important for wildlife:

Core Habitat:  'Core Habitat' designates areas of prime habitat for ‘Species of Conservation Concern’ – those listed under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act, as well as additional species identified in the State Wildlife Action Plan. 

Critical Natural Landscapes: A ‘Critical Natural Landscape’ is a landscape that supports intact ecological processes, maintains habitat connectivity, enhances ecological resilience, or buffers habitats for long-term health and viability.

There are 2.1 million acres in the Commonwealth that are classified as Core Habitat or Critical Natural Landscapes. Currently, 1.2 million of these acres remain unprotected.  By working to protect and steward these areas, your municipality can help ensure the long-term survival of rare and other native species and their habitats, exemplary natural communities, and a diversity of ecosystems throughout the Commonwealth.

The BioMap2 website has links to download the BioMap2 publication (and an associated wall-map), and features an interactive component that allows users to zoom into their own community and explore local Core Habitiat and Critical Natural Landscape findings. 

What are the benefits of using CPA funding to acquire land for natural resource protection?
Ecological Benefits
: Protecting land and water in your community will protect the birds, fish and wildlife that depend on these natural areas for survival.

Economic Benefits: Approximately 2.2 million residents and non-residents fish, hunt, or wildlife watch in Massachusetts. These wildlife recreators spend $1.6 billion in the commonwealth annually. (Source: U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Dept. of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau. 2006 “National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.”).

Trees and natural lands work to filter and clean air and water, providing “nature’s benefits” with no infrastructure construction or maintenance costs. Natural vegetated landscapes also retain stormwater, reducing costly flooding, and reduce the "urban heat island effect", lowering energy costs. 

Social Benefits: Open spaces can provide places for physical activity and connection with nature, which can improve health, lift mood, and enhance psychological well-being.

Project Support
The Coalition’s BioMap outreach is supported by the Open Space Conservancy. The Open Space Conservancy, Inc. is an affiliate of the Open Space Institute, Inc., which established Saving New England’s Wildlife Fund with a lead grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to protect wildlife habitat in northern New England.

Further Resources. . .

>> A sample information sheet produced by the Coalition showing the city of Northampton's BioMap habitat. Contact the Coalition for a similar flyer for your community.

>> Download the BioMap2 summary report

>> Visit the BioMap2 interactive map, where you can zoom to your community and explore the report's findings at a street level.

>> Access town-specific BioMap reports, customized for each community.