Monday, June 15, 2009

Protected Areas Database for the United States Now Available

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) NBII Gap Analysis Program (GAP) and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) have joined forces to design the most collaborative and current protected areas database of our nation (PAD-US). The vision of this group, the PADUS Partnership, is to provide guidance and resources to maintain protected lands data with greater accuracy anddetail than was previously possible. The Partnership defines protected areas as “lands dedicated to the preservation of biological diversity and to other natural, recreational, and cultural uses managed for these purposes through legal or other effective means” and includes the USGS, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Conservation Biology Institute, GreenInfo Network, and The Nature Conservancy (TNC). In April 2009, GAP aggregated the first version of the Protected Areas Database of the United States (PAD-Usv1) on behalf of the PAD-US Partnership. These data are required to fulfill GAP’s mission to provide state, regional, and national assessments of the conservation status of native vertebrate species and natural land cover types and to facilitate the application of this information to land management activities. To fulfill the NBII mission to facilitate the widest possible access to and use of biological data and information, GAP worked with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) to link PAD-US to the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA). In addition, the PADUS database will be submitted annually to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation ( for integration into the North American Environmental Atlas. These linkages will facilitate collaboration among conservation organizations and land managers by establishing a consistent understanding of protected lands status whether the focus is global or local. PAD-US is a geodatabase that combines administrative boundaries with attributes of ownership, management, and conservation measures. Available information includes: geographic boundaries of public land ownership and voluntarily provided private conservation lands (e.g., TNC preserves); a combination of land owner, manager, management designation, parcel name, and source of geographic information of each mapped land unit; International Union for Conservation of Nature category ; and GAP Status Codes intended to provide a measurement of management commitment for longterm biodiversity protection.

GAP categorizes protected areas (see PADUS map) as:

• Status Code 1: lands managed solely for biodiversity conservation in perpetuity

• Status Code 2: lands managed primarily for biodiversity conservation with some management (e.g., suppression of wildfire or activities designed to mimic natural disturbances)

• Status Code 3: lands having permanent protection from natural land cover conversion, but are subject to extractive uses (e.g., logging or mining)

• Status Code 4: lands not managed for conservation or for which there is no information

Protected areas are both uniquely and uniformly identified in the geodatabase by standardized parcel names and coded management designations. In addition, a parcel’s contextual setting is maintained through standardized attributes such as “Class” (Federal, Tribal, City, or Private) and “State Name.” Updates in several northwestern states (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and California) are underway in addition to additional outreach and collaboration with data partners. The mission of GAP includes promoting conservation by providing broad geographic information on biological diversity to resource managers, planners, and policy makers who can use the information to make informed decisions. As part of the NBII — a collaborative program to provide increased access to data and information on the nation’s biological resources — GAP data and analytical tools have been used in hundreds of applications, from basic research to comprehensive state wildlife plans, and from education projects in schools to ecoregional assessments of biodiversity. GAP has developed protected areas information since the late 1980s. PAD-US demonstrates the collaborative efforts of the PAD-US Partnership to share data and leverage resources. PAD-US will be continually updated and improved. For more information, see <> or contact John Mosesso, Gap Analysis Program Manager.


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