BioMap2Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program

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Conserving the Biodiversity of Massachusetts in a Changing World
- November 2010

BioMap2 is designed to guide strategic biodiversity conservation in Massachusetts over the next decade by focusing land protection and stewardship on the areas that are most critical for ensuring the long-term persistence of rare and other native species and their habitats, exemplary natural communities, and a diversity of ecosystems. BioMap2 is also designed to include the habitats and species of conservation concern identified in the State Wildlife Action Plan.

Core Habitat and Critical Natural Landscape often overlap. Together they identify 2.1 million acres that are key to conserving our state's biodiversity. Currently, 1.2 million of these acres remain unprotected.

Core Habitat totals 1.2 million acres, of which 680,000 acres remain unprotected.

Core Habitat includes:

Critical Natural Landscape totals 1.8 million acres, of which 1 million acres remain unprotected.

Critical Natural Landscape includes:

Using the Map Viewer:

The BioMap2 Viewer has been tested in the folowing browsers:

Google Chrome (current) | Internet Explorer 7 (upgrade recommended), 8, 9, 10 | Firefox 3.5 - current | Chromium | Safari 2.3.2 | Opera 10 - 12.12
Internet Explorer 6 and Firefox 3.0 users must upgrade to use the map.

Map Controls

When the map loads, the information tool is active.

Three tools can be used on the map:
the Infomation tool (1),the Zoom Box tool (2) and the Pan tool (3)

The other buttons are: Full Extent (4), Previous Extent (5) and Next Extent (6)
and lastly Zoom to a Town (7).

Layers and Background Maps

Click the checkboxes in the layers window to add or remove data and change background maps

note: layers draw on top of the background maps.

Query Results

When using the information tool

the query window shows the Core and Critical Natural Landscape ID (top) these correspond to an ID in the town overview report -in this case Ipswich- at the bottom of the results window (pdf). A description of the individual BioMap2 component layer(s) that comprise the selected core can be seen by clicking the a blue link(s) under the main result header .

Printing Tips

If the BioMap2 banner is completely transparent on your print out this is because some browsers do not print background colors and images automatically - under printing options in most browsers there is a check box that enables this feature.

A default legend is created when printing, if you wish to place your legend by hand click the legend button (at the bottom of the Map Layers window) and drag the legend to the desired location.

BioMap2 Components:

Core Habitat: consists of 1,242,000 acres that are critical for the long-term persistence of rare species and other Species of Conservation Concern, as well as a wide diversity of natural communities and intact ecosystems across the Commonwealth.

Species of Conservation Concern - includes 475 species that are directly mapped in BioMap2. There are 413 species listed under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act and an additional 62 non-listed species that were directly mapped in BioMap2. The directly mapped species totals are: 9 mammal, 50 bird, 15 reptile, 7 amphibian, 27 fish, 111 invertebrate, and 256 plant species.

Priority Natural Communities - includes natural communities with limited distribution - regionally or globally - and the best examples documented of more common types such as old-growth tracts of widespread forest types. There are 782 examples of 94 different types of priority and exemplary Natural Community types included in BioMap2. Natural communities are defined as interacting assemblages of plant and animal species that share a common environment and occur together repeatedly on the landscape. Conservation of these areas will support the persistence of numerous characteristic common as well as rare species within Massachusetts.

Aquatic Cores - identifies core habitat for fish Species of Conservation Concern and other aquatic Species of Conservation Concern. In addition to various rivers and streams, a 30 meter band around each river segment is mapped, as well as wetlands that are wholly or partially contained within the band. The resulting Aquatic Cores are designed to protect 10 MESA-listed fish, 17 non-listed fish, as well as 145 MESA-listed species with all or a portion of their life cycle in aquatic habitats.

Wetland Cores - identifies the most intact wetlands within less developed landscapes-those generally with intact upland buffers, little fragmentation, and minimally disturbed by other stressors associated with roads and development. These wetlands, selected across a diversity of ecological settings, are most likely to support critical wetland functions (i.e., natural hydrologic conditions, diverse plant and animal habitats, etc.) and are most likely to maintain these functions into the future. All wetland Priority Natural Communities are also included as part of Wetland Cores.

Vernal Pool Cores - identifies the top 5 percent most interconnected clusters of Potential Vernal Pools. Each cluster of pools is buffered to create vernal pool habitat areas to target for conservation that includes the pools themselves and the surrounding habitat to allow for successful breeding, dispersal, overwintering, foraging, and migration. Targeting clusters of vernal pools, rather than only individual pools, will maximize the resistance and resilience of vernal pool habitats and their resident species in the context of climate change

Forest Cores - identifies the best examples of large, intact forests that are least impacted by roads and development, providing critical "forest interior" habitat for numerous woodland species. Forest core minimum sizes range from about 500 acres in eastern Massachusetts and major river valleys, to over 2,000 acres in the western Massachusetts highlands.

Critical Natural Landscape: consists of 1,783,000 acres complementing and in many cases overlapping Core Habitat, including large natural Landscape Blocks and buffering uplands around coastal, wetland and aquatic Core Habitats to help ensure their long-term integrity.

Landscape Blocks - provides habitat for wide-ranging native species, support intact ecological processes, maintain connectivity among habitats, and enhance ecological resilience. They are large areas of intact and predominately natural vegetation, consisting of contiguous forests, wetlands, rivers, lakes, and ponds, as well as coastal habitats such as barrier beaches and salt marshes. Pastures and power-line rights-of-way, which are less intensively altered than most developed areas, are also included since they provide habitat and connectivity for many species. Different size thresholds were used to select the largest Landscape Blocks in certain ecoregions.

Foraging Habitat for Tern Species - identifies the offshore habitat used by MESA-listed Roseate, Arctic, Common, and Least Terns when foraging for food.


Upland Buffers of Wetland Cores -identifies upland areas adjacent to all Wetland Cores. If protected, these upland areas will help support the functioning of each wetland over the long-term.

Upland Buffers of Aquatic Cores - identifies upland areas adjacent to all Aquatic Cores. If protected, these upland areas will help protect river, stream, lake, and pond habitat over the long-term.

Upland Habitat to Support Coastal Adaptation - identifies upland areas adjacent to salt marshes where these habitats might move to as sea levels rise. Undeveloped lands adjacent to and up to one and a half meters above existing salt marsh elevations are identified, and included as part of Critical Natural Landscape given their high potential to support inland migration of salt marsh and other coastal habitats over the coming century.

ECOREGIONS - Ecoregions are geographic areas with similar topography, geology, and predominant vegetation, and therefore represent areas of relatively homogeneous ecological setting. The ecoregions of Massachusetts were used to select ecosystems across a diversity of ecological settings.

Ecoregions (from west to east):

Map Layers:
click the underlined heading to see the related MassGIS metadata page and/or download the data.


The Massachusetts Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program and The Nature Conservancy's Massachusetts Program developed BioMap2 in 2010 as a conservation plan to protect the state's biodiversity. BioMap2 is designed to guide strategic biodiversity conservation in Massachusetts over the next decade by focusing land protection and stewardship on the areas that are most critical for ensuring the long-term persistence of rare and other native species and their habitats, exemplary natural communities, and a diversity of ecosystems.


The Open Space map layer is continuously updated. Open Space includes State, Federal, Town, County, Non-Profit lands as well as Private lands under conservation restriction.


From 1:25,000 Topographic Quadrangles Automated by MASSGIS.


Scanned from 15 minute series and 7.5 minute series. Dates range from 1967-1990.

MassGIS provides several web services for accessing spatial data about Massachusetts. Publicly available datasets include aerial photography, street maps, census data, environmental data and much much more. Most of this data is available for free download via the MassGIS Datalayers page.

About Us:

BioMap2 was jointly produced by the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and the Massachusetts Program of The Nature Conservancy (TNC).

Project principals were Henry Woolsey, (NHESP); Andrew Finton (TNC); and James DeNormandie, Conservation Planner, under contract from the Mass Audubon Ecological Extension Service. Members of the core project team also include Jessica Dyson (TNC GIS Manager), Sarah Haggerty (NHESP Information Manager), and Glenn Motzkin (Landscape Ecologist).


The Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is responsible for the conservation and protection of Massachusetts' biodiversity through land protection, biological research and inventory, endangered species regulation, rare species recovery, habitat restoration, education, and information management.

The Nature Conservancy's mission is to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. The Nature Conservancy's Massachusetts Program has focused on analyses and conservation of globally important forests, rivers, wetlands, and coastal systems.


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts funded the project largely from capital bond funds and from the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Fund. The Department of Fish and Game also gratefully acknowledges a critical grant received from the Open Space Institute, with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The Nature Conservancy is especially grateful for support from The Ackerman Conservation Fund, Toward Sustainability Foundation, and Elinor M. and Joel L. Siner.

About the Map Viewer:

Developed by Kevin Robicheau (DFG); using an open source development stack consisting of: OpenLayers, Extjs, jQuery, GeoEXT, Proj4, and GeoServer(MassGIS).

iconCore Habitat
iconCritical Natural Landscape
iconAquatic Core
iconAquatic Buffer
iconWetlands Buffer
iconForest Core
iconLandscape Blocks
iconPriority Natural Communities
iconVernal Pool Core
iconCoastal Adaptation
iconSpecies of Conservation Concern
iconTern Foraging Habitat
iconCertified Vernal Pools
iconPotential Vernal Pools
iconNHESP Ecoregions
iconMassachusetts Outline
iconMassachusetts Towns
iconMassachusetts Towns (offshore boundaries)