The Massachusetts Ecological Integrity Maps (IEI) are based on a computer software program and a method to prioritize land for conservation based on the assessment of ecological integrity for ecological communities (e.g., forest, shrub swamp, headwater stream). The computer software program is known as the Conservation Assessment and Prioritization System (CAPS) and has been under development by UMass researchers over the past decade. The CAPS model has 26 metrics representing human-induced stressors on the environment and resiliency. In the past 5 years, MassDEP and CZM worked with UMass-Amherst to ensure that coastal stressors are represented in the metrics so that the maps could be used statewide. The results of the CAPS assessment are available as a GIS data layer and IEI maps depicting an IEI score for each point in the undeveloped landscape.
Using the IEI values, the MassDEP maps of Habitat of Potential Regional or Statewide Importance depict polygons representing 40% of the landscape with the highest wildlife habitat value. Activities subject to the Wetlands Protection regulations that are in areas mapped as habitat of potential regional or statewide importance should conduct a detailed wildlife habitat evaluation. Additional information on how to use these maps can be found in the Massachusetts Wildlife Habitat Protection Guidance for Inland Wetlands file size 2MB published in March 2006.
These maps are available for download from the Mass CAPS website. Funding for these maps is provided in part by the U.S. EPA Clean Water Act grants, MassDEP and UMass Amherst. Questions should be directed to Lisa Rhodes at MassDEP (lisa.rhodes@Massmail.state.ma.us) or Scott Jackson at the University of Massachusetts (413-545-4743; (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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