For Immediate Release - October 15, 2010

Wildlife Officials and The Nature Conservancy Announce Publication of BioMap2

Partners incorporate climate change impacts to land conservation planning tool

GRAFTON - Thursday, October 14, 2010 - Officials from the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and The Nature Conservancy today released a comprehensive land conservation strategy that includes an updated map of the Commonwealth's most critical lands, waters and habitats, and a plan to protect the Commonwealth's plants and wildlife in the context of a changing climate.

"The more we know about our natural resources, the more we can do to protect and manage them for future generations to enjoy," said Energy and Environmental Secretary Ian Bowles, whose office includes DFG. "This new map is an important tool to plan our land, habitat and wildlife conservation future."

Known as BioMap2, the plan was developed by a partnership between DFG's Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) and its Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, and The Nature Conservancy.

" BioMap2 is the Commonwealth's conservation planning blueprint that includes a new climate change planning element designed for a changing world," said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin. "It promotes the protection of the biodiversity of all our native species by using the most up to date natural resource data to identify the most ecologically significant habitats across the state."

The new edition is an expansion of the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program's 2001 BioMap, which provided conservation planning guidance to agencies, land trusts and other non-profit groups by converting 25 years of natural heritage biodiversity data into town-by-town maps showing habitats for rare species and important natural communities. Nearly 72,000 acres identified as core habitat in 2001 have since been protected, as well as over 44,000 acres of supporting natural landscape. Combined, this represents nearly 70 percent of all lands protected in Massachusetts by all conservation entities since 2001. BioMap2 expands the existing planning resource by including new analyses identifying large, intact natural landscapes and diverse ecosystems and takes into account the possible ecological impacts of climate change.

" BioMap2 builds upon the success of the original BioMap published in 2001 and the Living Waters biodiversity conservation plan from 2003," said MassWildlife Director Wayne MacCallum. "This plan is critically important in promoting the conservation of the state's rare species and many other wildlife species and habitats of conservation concern, furthering the goals of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife's State Wildlife Action Plan."

The first copies of BioMap2 were distributed at a news conference today following the quarterly meeting of the Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition, held at the Brigham Hill Community Farm in Grafton. Hard copies of the report will be provided to state agencies, land trusts and other conservation groups statewide and is available from the Natural Heritage Program.

Maps, information and BioMap2 data will also be available soon from MassWildlife's Natural Heritage Program at http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/nhesp/land_protection/BioMap2_statewide_map.pdf.

To produce BioMap2, DFG and MassWildlife partnered with The Nature Conservancy for its expertise in landscape-scale planning and approach to help forests, rivers, coastlines, wetlands and wildlife to cope with the affects of climate change.

"Climate change is already affecting our lives and the places we live," said Wayne Klockner, The Nature Conservancy's Massachusetts state director. "As we work to reduce our carbon emissions, we must also adjust how we protect and manage our lands and waters to build their resiliency in the face of these impacts."

"When the first version of BioMap was released, it quickly became one of the principal tools that Massachusetts land trusts used to set their land protection priorities," said Bernie McHugh, Director of the Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition. " BioMap2's refined data and climate-sensitive approach makes it even more useful and timely for land conservationists."

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts funded the project largely from open space bond funds and from the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Fund. DFG also received a critical grant from the Open Space Institute, with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and funds from the Massachusetts Outdoor Heritage Foundation. The Nature Conservancy is grateful of support for the project from the Ackerman Conservation Fund, Toward Sustainability Foundation, and Elinor M. and Joel L. Siner.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than one million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web.

DFG is responsible for promoting the enjoyment and conservation of the Commonwealth's natural resources. DFG carries out this mission through land preservation and wildlife habitat management, management of inland and marine fish and game species, and enforcement of the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act. DFG promotes enjoyment of the Massachusetts environment through outdoor skills workshops, fishing festivals and other educational programs, and by enhancing access to the Commonwealth's lakes and ponds.