Identifying Biodiversity Priority Areas in New York and its State Parks

Project Sponsor: New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
End Date: June 30, 2016

Summary

For this project, we conducted a GIS analysis to identify those areas in New York State that are a priority for the conservation of unique, distinctive, and significant components of New York’s biodiversity. We then used the results of the analysis to rank State Parks for conservation priority. See project page for more information.

New York Natural Heritage conducted an analysis to identify those areas in New York State that are a priority for the conservation of unique, distinctive, and significant components of New York’s biodiversity. We then used the results of the analysis to rank State Parks for conservation priority.

We improved and expanded upon the Natural Heritage Areas assessment conducted in 2006, which identified areas on State Lands that are priorities for rare species and significant natural communities. We broadened the geographic scope to all of New York State, conducted the assessment at a finer resolution, brought in new and updated biodiversity data, and improved upon the scoring methodology.

Our assessment evaluated habitat across all of New York State using a 30-meter cell resolution and incorporated direct and indirect indicators of biodiversity that measure

Known special biodiversity: Natural Heritage occurrences of rare animals, rare plants, and rare or high-quality natural communities.

Potential special biodiversity: Modeled distributions of rare species.

Landscape characteristics that contribute to special biodiversity: Large forest blocks and connectivity zones among them; Climate change resilience; Landscape condition.

For each indicator, we assigned or calculated values statewide, and then normalized them to a scale of 0-1. We assigned a weighting factor to each indicator to control its relative influence in the model. The weighted scores of all five indicators for each cell were then summed to arrive at an overall “Natural Heritage Biodiversity Index” for that cell.

The Natural Heritage Biodiversity Indices were analyzed for State Park units five acres or larger. In addition to comparing State Parks based on their mean Natural Heritage Biodiversity Index, we assessed each State Park unit for the proportion of its area that was among the top 10% of Natural Heritage Biodiversity Indices statewide.

The results should enable NYS OPRHP to prioritize land acquisition and natural resource management efforts on those areas that will have the most impact on preserving the state’s biodiversity. The results also allow OPRHP to view the biodiversity significance of its lands relative to the rest of New York State.


Dec. 10, 2020 | Updated Feb. 2, 2021, 2:54 p.m.