NHESP produces and maintains several GIS datalayers which are accessible to the public. The list below describes each of the datalayers and includes a link for free download and a link to a GIS viewer displaying the data.

  • NHESP Priority Habitats of Rare Species - Priority Habitat is the geographical extent of habitat for all state-listed rare species, both plants and animals, and is codified under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA). Habitat alteration within Priority Habitats may result in a "take" of a state-listed species, and is subject to regulatory review by the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program. With the support of MassGIS, the NHESP Priority Habitats and Estimated Habitats are now viewable through an interactive mapping program. For more information on Priority Habitat, please see the Regulatory Maps section of our website.
  • NHESP Estimated Habitats of Rare Wildlife - Estimated Habitats are a sub-set of the Priority Habitats that show the geographical extent of the habitat of state-listed rare wetland wildlife and is codified under the Wetlands Protection Act, which does not protect rare plants. Habitat alteration within Estimated Habitats that may result in a "take" of a state-listed species is also subject to regulatory review by the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program. With the support of MassGIS, the NHESP Priority Habitats and Estimated Habitats are now viewable through an interactive mapping program. For more information on Estimated Habitat, please see the Regulatory Maps section of our website.
  • NHESP Natural Communities - These polygons represent the extent of various natural communities of biodiversity conservation interest in Massachusetts, and are based on observations recorded and maintained within the Natural Heritage Database. For more information on natural communities, please see our Natural Communities web page.
  • NHESP Certified Vernal Pools - This datalayer contains points for all vernal pools that have been certified by the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program (NHESP) according to the Guidelines for Certification of Vernal Pool Habitat (MA Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, 2009).  For more information on vernal pools and the certification process, please see our Vernal Pools web page.
  • NHESP Potential Vernal Pools - This datalayer identifies the locations of more than 29,000 potential, unverified, vernal pool habitats throughout Massachusetts.  For more information on vernal pools, please see our Vernal Pools web page.
  • BioMap2 Core Habitat and Critical Natural Landscapes - BioMap Core Habitat depicts the most viable habitat for rare and other native species and exemplary natural communities in Massachusetts. Critical Natural Landscapes identify large, naturally vegetated blocks that are relatively free from the impact of roads and other development and provides buffers to wetland and aquatic Core Habitats. These layers are now viewable through an interactive mapping program.  For more information on BioMap2, please see our BioMap2 web page.

All of the above GIS layers are available in the Conservation/Recreation folder in the MassGIS data viewer known as OLIVER .