Log in links for this page

MassGIS Data: BioMap: The Future of Conservation

November 2022

The BioMap project data, and all associated GIS layers, were completely updated in 2022 and enhanced with a new set of local and regional components. This living project will be called BioMap moving forward and the elements and components are designed to replace the BioMap2 project data.

Table of Contents

Downloads

The BioMap self-extracting zip file available here contains a geodatabase or set of shapefiles with 22 separate feature classes/shapefiles. There is one feature class/shapefile for each of the two Elements of BioMap, “Core Habitat” and “Critical Natural Landscape”. Each Element is made up of a collection of Components, as described below. Six feature classes/shapefiles isolate the Components that make up Core Habitat. Five feature classes/shapefiles isolate the Components that make up Critical Natural Landscape. An additional seven feature classes/shapefiles identify local components that were designed to be used only at the local and municipal planning scale. Finally, two additional feature classes/shapefiles identify Components that are relevant for regional planning and extend beyond Massachusetts to the surrounding states and region. Layer Files are included for symbolization in ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro.

Overview

BioMap sample map

BioMap is the result of an ongoing collaboration between MassWildlife and the Massachusetts Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Since its inception in 2001, this comprehensive tool has become a trusted source of information to guide conservation that is used by a wide spectrum of conservation practitioners. Today’s BioMap builds on previous iterations with the continuing goal of protecting the diversity of species and natural ecosystems within the Commonwealth. BioMap is an important tool to guide strategic protection and stewardship of lands and waters that are most important for conserving biological diversity in Massachusetts.

    Elements of BioMap

    • Core Habitat identifies areas critical for the long-term persistence of rare species, exemplary natural communities, and resilient ecosystems.
    • Critical Natural Landscape identifies large landscapes minimally impacted by development and buffers to core habitats and coastal areas, both of which enhance connectivity and resilience.

    BioMap uses specific data and sophisticated mapping and analysis tools to spatially define each of these Elements, calling on the latest research and understanding of species biology, conservation biology, and landscape ecology.

    Usage

    The legend that MUST accompany these datalayers on ALL maps is:
    “NHESP/TNC BioMap”

    These data layers are intended for conservation planning purposes only and should not be used for regulatory purposes. The NHESP layers designed for regulatory use are produced in the Natural Heritage Atlas and include Priority Habitat and Estimated Habitat.

    What BioMap Provides

    BioMap comprises the following individual data layers. The name of the shapefile and geodatabase layers are listed in parentheses, followed by the fields in each layer's attribute table. "BM3" in the layer names refers to these being part of the third release of BioMap data.

    BioMap Elements

    • Core Habitat

    Areas critical for the long-term persistence of rare species, exemplary natural communities, and resilient ecosystems.

    (BM3_CORE_HABITAT)

    CH_ID - Unique ID assigned to each Core Habitat polygon
    ACRES_CH - Acreage of entire Core Habitat polygon prior to insertion of town boundaries.
    TOWN – Town within which Core Habitat polygon is found.
    AC_TOWN_CH – Acreage of each Core Habitat polygon that occurs within a town’s boundary.

     

    • Critical Natural Landscape

    Large landscapes minimally impacted by development and buffers to core habitats and coastal areas, both of which enhance connectivity and resilience.

    (BM3_CRITICAL_NATURAL_LANDSCAPE)

    CNL_ID - Unique ID assigned to each Critical Natural Landscape polygon.
    AC_CNL - Acreage of entire Critical Natural Landscape polygon prior to insertion of town boundaries.
    TOWN – Town within which Critical Natural Landscape polygon is found.
    AC_TOWN_CNL – Acreage of each Critical Natural Landscape polygon that occurs within a town’s boundary.

    BioMap Core Habitat Components

    • Forest Core

    The most intact forests of Massachusetts, least impacted by development and essential for animals and plants dependent on remote habitat.

    (BM3_CH_FOREST_CORE)

    CH_FC_ID - Unique ID assigned to each Forest Core polygon.
    AC_CH_FC - Acreage of each Forest Core polygon.

     

    • Rare Species Core

    Areas critical to the long-term conservation of our most vulnerable species and their habitats.

    (BM3_CH_RARE_SPECIES_CORE)

    CH_RARE_ID - Unique ID assigned to each contiguous Rare Species Core polygon.
    AC_CH_RARE – Acreage of entire Rare Species Core polygon prior to insertion of town boundaries.
    TOWN – Town within which Rare Species Core polygon is found.
    AC_RSCXTWN – Acreage of each Rare Species Core polygon that occurs within a town’s boundary.
    TAXATOTAL – Total number of unique species present within a given core polygon across all taxa.

     

    • Priority Natural Communities

    Assemblages of plant and animal species with limited distribution and the best examples of common assemblages. This data set is maintained by MassWildlife's Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP).

    (BM3_CH_PRIORITY_NATURAL_COMMS)

    CH_PNC_ID - Unique ID assigned to each Priority Natural Community polygon.
    AC_CH_PNC - Acreage of each Priority Natural Community polygon.

    NAT_COMM - This is a brief, general description of the natural community type.
    COMM_CATEG – A high level summary field that distinguishes between terrestrial, freshwater, and coastal/marine natural communities.

     

    • Wetland Core

    The most intact, least disturbed wetlands within resilient, less developed landscapes, with fewer stressors such as pollution.

    (BM3_CH_WETLAND_CORE)

    CH_WC_ID - Unique ID assigned to each contiguous BioMap wetland core polygon.
    AC_CH_WC – Total acreage of each contiguous wetland core polygon.
    AC_SUB_WC – Sub-acreages within each wetland core polygon that identify the data set used to select the wetland.
    INTEGRITY – Y(es)/N(o) field that identifies wetlands selected for high ecological integrity.
    RESILIENCE – Y(es)/N(o) field that identifies wetlands selected for high wetland resilience in the context of climate change.
    RARESP – Y(es)/N(o) field that identifies wetlands selected that support Rare Species Core wetland-dependent species.
    PNCOMM – Y(es)/N(o) field that identifies priority natural community wetlands.
    OXBOWS - Y(es)/N(o) field that identifies unique Oxbow wetlands.

     

    • Aquatic Core

    Intact aquatic habitats (rivers, streams, lakes and ponds) supporting a diversity of aquatic species and important physical and ecological processes.

    (BM3_CH_AQUATIC_CORE)

    CH_AC_ID - Unique ID assigned to each contiguous Aquatic Core polygon.
    AC_CH_AC - Total acreage of each contiguous aquatic core polygon.
    AC_SUB_AC – Sub-acreages within each polygon that identify the analysis (see below) that drove selection of the Aquatic Core.
    STREAMBIOD - Y(es)/N(o) field that identifies the stream reaches with the highest integrity for native species assemblages.
    NATRICH - Y(es)/N(o) field that identifies priority rivers and lake/pond habitats based on high native species richness.
    RARESP – Y(es)/N(o) field that identifies portions of Aquatic Core that support aquatic rare species.
    ANAD – Y(es)/N(o) field of important anadromous fish species habitat identified by the Division of Marine Fisheries.
    MUSSEL – Y(es)/N(o) field that identifies streams and lakes/ponds with high mussel species richness.
    WILD_TR – Y(es)/N(o) field that identifies important coldwater stream and river habitat with high wild Eastern Brook Trout abundances.
    EBTR – Y(es)/N(o) field that identifies coldwater headwater stream habitat with high Eastern Brook Trout and Slimy Sculpin abundances.
    BS_CCS – Y(es)/N(o) field that identifies stream reaches with highest Banded Sunfish and Creek Chubsucker abundances.
    TWOSTORYPD – Y(es)/N(o) field that identifies lakes that have coldwater habitat (<20 ° Celsius).
    PDFISHCOND – Y(es)/N(o) field that identifies lakes and ponds that support healthy fish growing conditions, based upon species-specific length-weight relationships.

     

    • Vernal Pool Core

    Clusters of ecologically significant pools and intact surrounding upland habitat to ensure connectivity between pools.

    (BM3_CH_VERNAL_POOL_CORE)

    CH_VP_ID - Unique ID assigned to each Vernal Pool Core polygon.
    ACRES_CH_VP – Acreage of each Vernal Pool Core polygon.

     

    BioMap Critical Natural Landscape Components

    • Landscape Blocks

    Landscape Blocks, the primary component of Critical Natural Landscapes, are large areas of intact and connected forest, wetland, river, and coastal habitat that sustain healthy populations of countless species.

    (BM3_CNL_LANDSCAPE_BLOCKS)

    CNL_LB_ID – Unique ID assigned to each Landscape Block.
    AC_CNL_LB – Acreage of each Landscape Block

     

    • Aquatic Buffers

    Intact upland areas surrounding Aquatic Cores which support habitat function and enable species to move between habitat types.

    (BM3_CNL_AQUATIC_BUFFER)

    CNL_AB_ID  - Unique ID assigned to the buffer of each Aquatic Core polygon.
    AC_CNL_AB – Acreage of each aquatic buffer polygon.

     

    • Wetland Buffers

    Intact upland areas surrounding Wetland Cores which support habitat function and enable species to move between habitat types.

    (BM3_CNL_WETLAND_BUFFER)

    CNL_WB_ID – Unique ID assigned to the buffer of each Wetland Core polygon.
    AC_CNL_WB – Acreage of each polygon

     

    • Coastal Adaptation Areas

    Areas adjacent to existing salt marshes that are most conducive to habitat movement as sea levels rise.

    (BM3_CNL_COASTAL_ADAPT)

    CNL_CAA_ID – Unique ID assigned to each coastal habitat/upland buffer complex.
    AC_CNL_CAA – Acreage of each polygon.
    DESCRIP – Differentiates coastal habitats (DEP wetlands or Priority Natural Communities) from their upland buffer.

     

    • Tern Foraging Habitat

    ​Offshore habitat used by state-listed Roseate, Arctic, Common, and Least Terns when feeding.

    (BM3_CNL_TERN_FORAGING)

    CNL_TF_ID – Unique ID assigned to each tern foraging habitat polygon.
    AC_CNL_TF – Acreage of each polygon.

     

    BioMap Local Components

    To complement statewide habitats, the new BioMap includes habitats assessed and prioritized from the perspective of each city and town, which provide municipalities and local land trusts with additional information to support local decisions.  Because the Local Components are meant to be used only at local scales (i.e. not Statewide) these layers are turned off in the interactive map except when zoomed in to “local” scales. The BioMap Local Components are described below.

    • Local Landscapes

    The most intact natural areas in each city and town—mosaics of forests, wetlands, and streams. View with statewide data.

    (BM3_LOCAL_LANDSCAPES)

    LOC_LL_ID – Unique ID assigned to each Landscape Block.
    AC_LOC_LL- Acreage of each Landscape Block.

     

    • Local Wetlands

    Resilient wetlands in less developed areas of each municipality, supporting species and community benefits. View with statewide data.

    (BM3_LOCAL_WETLANDS)

    LOC_WC_ID – Unique ID assigned to each contiguous local wetland core polygon.
    AC_LOCWC – Acreage of each local wetland polygon.
    INTEGRITY – Y(es)/N(o) field that identifies wetlands selected for high ecological integrity.
    RESILIENCE – Y(es)/N(o) field that identifies wetlands selected for high wetland resilience in the context of climate change.

     

    • Local Wetland Buffers

    Intact upland habitat surrounding wetlands that supports wetland functions and connectivity between habitats. View with statewide data.

    (BM3_LOCAL_WETLANDS_BUFFER)

    LOCWETBFID – Unique ID assigned to the buffer of each Local Wetlands polygon.
    ACLOCWCBUF – Acreage of each local wetland buffer.

     

    • Local Rare Species

    Habitats within each municipality that support highly vulnerable and imperiled species. View with statewide data.

    (BM3_LOCAL_RARE_SPECIES)

    LOC_RAREID – Unique ID assigned to each contiguous Local Rare Species polygon.
    AC_LOCRARE – Acreage of entire Local Rare Species polygon prior to insertion of town boundaries.
    AC_LRSXTWN – Acreage of each Local Rare Species polygon that occurs within a town’s boundary.
    TAXATOTAL – Total number of unique species present within a given polygon across all taxa.

     

    • Local Aquatic Habitats

    Areas in each municipality with above average fish and freshwater mussel native species diversity. View with statewide data.

    (BM3_LOCAL_AQUATIC_HABITATS)

    LOC_AC_ID – Unique ID assigned to each contiguous Local Aquatic Habitat polygon.
    AC_LAH – Total acreage of each contiguous local aquatic habitat polygon.
    AC_SUB_LAH – Sub-acreages within each polygon that identify the analysis (see below) that drove selection of the Local Aquatic Habitat.
    STREAMBIOD – Y(es)/N(o) field that identifies the stream reaches with the highest integrity for native species assemblages.
    NATRICH – Y(es)/N(o) field that identifies priority rivers and lake/pond habitats based on high native species richness.
    MUSSEL – Y(es)/N(o) field that identifies streams and lakes/ponds with high mussel species richness.
    WILD_TR – Y(es)/N(o) field that identifies important coldwater stream and river habitat with high wild Eastern Brook Trout abundances.
    EBTR – Y(es)/N(o) field that identifies coldwater headwater stream habitat with high Eastern Brook Trout and Slimy Sculpin abundances.
    PDFISHCOND – Y(es)/N(o) field that identifies lakes and ponds that support healthy fish growing conditions, based upon species-specific length-weight relationships.

     

    • Local Aquatic Habitat Buffers

    Intact upland habitat surrounding Aquatic Habitats that supports aquatic functions and connectivity between habitats. View with statewide data.

    (BM3_LOCAL_AQUATIC_HABITATS_BUFFER)

    LOCAHB_ID – Unique ID assigned to the buffer of each Local Aquatic Habitat polygon.
    ACLOCAHB – Acreage of each local aquatic habitat buffer polygon.

     

    • Local Vernal Pools

    Vernal pool clusters that support critical breeding habitats within each municipality. View with statewide data.

    (BM3_LOCAL_VERNAL_POOLS)

    LOC_VP_ID – Unique ID assigned to each Local Vernal Pool polygon.
    AC_LOCVP – Acreage of each Local Vernal Pool polygon.

     

    BioMap Regional Components

    Massachusetts does not sit in isolation from the larger landscape of New England and the Northeastern U.S. To complement statewide Components, the new BioMap identifies the habitats that are particularly important for regional conservation and the habitat connections that are critical for conservation success across the Northeast. The BioMap Regional Components are described below.

    • Regional Connectivity

    Areas that are particularly important for maintaining connections among habitats across the Northeast US, which will support the shifting ranges of native species.

    (BM3_REGIONAL_CONNECTIVITY)

    REG_RC_ID- Unique ID assigned to each regional connectivity polygon.
    AC_REG_RC - Acreage of each regional connectivity polygon.

     

    • Regional Rare Species

    Habitats within the state that support highly vulnerable and imperiled species which are at high risk regionally, nationally, or globally due to factors such as restricted ranges, few populations or occurrences, history of decline, and high threat levels.

    (BM3_REGIONAL_RARE_SPECIES)

    REGRARE_ID – Unique ID assigned to each contiguous Regional Rare Species polygon.
    ACREG_RARE – Acreage of entire Regional Rare Species polygon prior to insertion of town boundaries.
    AC_RRSXTWN – Acreage of each Regional Rare Species polygon that occurs within a town’s boundary.
    TAXATOTAL – Total number of unique species present within a given polygon across all taxa.

    Maintenance

    BioMap data layers are static. They were created in 2022, replacing the older NHESP BioMap2 Core Habitat, Critical Natural Landscape, and associated components.

    Please contact natural.heritage@mass.gov for questions or issues with the data.

    Last updated: November 22, 2022

    Help Us Improve Mass.gov with your feedback

    Feedback