Conservation Opportunity Maps
The Conservation Opportunity Maps identify regional opportunities for biodiversity conservation in Washington. The maps assess the distribution of important species, plant communities, and ecological systems, and overlay them with human population trends. The maps are part of the "Washington Biodiversity Conservation Strategy."
Who can use the Conservation Opportunity Framework?
Communities, planners, agencies, schools, foundations—the maps and the underlying data are available to the public. The maps provide high-level guidance on where to invest in biodiversity conservation activities in Washington.
These activities include a wide range of approaches for stewarding biodiversity, maintaining working lands, and sustaining important cultural attributes of the landscape. The framework for the maps emphasizes that all areas can contribute to keeping Washington's species and ecosystems healthy.
How do the maps work?
Overlaying two sets of data—biodiversity significance and projected human population growth—produces a nine-part matrix of conservation opportunity.
The conservation opportunity maps are based on Washington's ecoregions. Ecoregions encompass landscape-level processes and share climate, vegetation, geology, and other environmental patterns. Washington's nine terrestrial ecoregions extend past our borders; we share a rich mix of species and ecosystems with our neighbors.
Ecoregions are a practical unit for conservation planning because they reflect broad ecological patterns and are large enough to include entire populations of species and their habitats, as well as natural processes such as wildfire.
Maps have been completed for seven of the nine terrestrial ecoregions that occur in Washington State.
Want to learn more?
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has developed a data viewer application using ArcGIS, which enables users to see the data underlying the maps.
The Washington Natural Heritage Program has enhanced the mapviewer on LandScope Washington to include these maps and data.