News  15th Edition Natural Heritage Atlas released August 1

Maps contained in the atlas help protect animals and plants listed under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act
  • MassWildlife's Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program
  • Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
close up of atlas map

MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) is announcing the availability of the 15th Edition Natural Heritage Atlas, on August 1, 2021. NHESP produces the Natural Heritage Atlas which represents the known geographic extent of habitat for rare plants and animals protected under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA) and the Wetlands Protection Act (WPA). These maps are primarily used to determine whether a proposed project or activity must be reviewed by NHESP for compliance with the MESA and the WPA. 

The maps in the Natural Heritage Atlas are based on occurrences—within the last 25 years—of MESA-listed species. These maps are re-evaluated every 4 years to reflect these observations, any changes to the MESA species list, an improved understanding of species biology and habitat requirements, and the utilization of improved mapping tools.

Access to Priority and Estimated Habitat maps is provided through a variety of sources: 

  • An interactive map viewer with address-matching capability is available online 
  • GIS datalayers for both Priority and Estimated Habitat can be downloaded from MassGIS (appropriate software required for use)  
  • Large-scale PDF maps for each Town containing Priority Habitat are available for download, viewing, or printing 
  • A large-scale town map may be purchased from NHESP 

Links to the above resources can be found on MassWildlife’s website at:

  • MassWildlife's Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program 

    The Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program is responsible for the conservation and protection of hundreds of species that are not hunted, fished, trapped, or commercially harvested in the state, as well as the protection of the natural communities that make up their habitats.
  • Division of Fisheries and Wildlife 

    MassWildlife is responsible for the conservation of freshwater fish and wildlife in the Commonwealth, including endangered plants and animals. MassWildlife restores, protects, and manages land for wildlife to thrive and for people to enjoy.
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