NatureServe and our partner organization, NatureServe Canada, are carrying out a number of projects designed to increase understanding of Canadian species and ecosystems and to apply this knowledge to important conservation issues. Working together with provincial Conservation Data Centres (CDCs) and other partners, our projects and activities in Canada focus on:
- Species and Ecosystem Assessments: Documenting the condition and distribution of species and ecosystems, with an emphasis on those of greatest conservation concern.
- Conservation Analyses: Producing analyses that meet critical conservation needs, based upon the best available data.
- Biodiversity Information Management: Creating information technology tools for recording, managing, and applying biodiversity information.
Current Projects in Canada
- Canadian National Vegetation Classification
- Report on Status of Canadian Species
- Conservation Status of Species
- Sustainable Forestry Certification
- Online Access to Biodiversity Data via Web Services
- NatureServe Vista: Decision-Support Systems for Land Use Planning
Canadian National Vegetation Classification
NatureServe Canada is working with the Canadian Forest Service, the Parks Canada Agency, and other partners to develop the first phase of a Canadian National Vegetation Classification, covering forest ecosystems. The national classification will be consistent with the NatureServe-led International Vegetation Classification and will draw upon the various provincial-level classifications already developed by CDCs. Additional information about the project is available here.
Report on the Status of Canadian Species
NatureServe Canada published a new species assessment report, Our Home and Native Land: Canadian Species of Global Conservation Concern, in September 2005. The report examines 5,685 native species, including plants and the best-known groups of animals and finds that 362, or 6.4%, are of global conservation concern. 68 of these species are endemic to Canada, meaning they are found in no other country. For more information on the report, visit the newsroom or download the report.
As a collaborator in GeoConnections, a national partnership to deliver geospatial information from many sources over the Internet, NatureServe Canada is working to improve the accessibility of biodiversity data held by Canadian conservation data centres. The first phase of NatureServes work involves developing the relevant metadata to connect CDCs and their data holdings to GeoConnections. Additional phases of the project will focus on developing national views of wild species distributions through the use of integrated information and data access tools.
Conservation Status of Species
Determining the relative risk of extinction confronting different plant and animal species is essential for setting effective conservation priorities. NatureServe has developed a rigorous protocol for assessing species status based on about a dozen factors, including population number and size, trends, and threats. These assessments are relied upon by numerous organizations, including provincial governments, federal agencies such as the Canadian Wildlife Service, private conservation organizations, and industry groups, such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. Funding from these federal agencies and many other sources has helped NatureServe and its partners to assess the status of thousands of North American plants and animals and make that data available on the NatureServe Explorer website.
Sustainable Forestry Certification
NatureServe and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), a sustainable forestry certification standard, are working together to protect imperiled species and forests of exceptional conservation value on timber industry lands. The SFI now requires its members to use NatureServe's conservation status assessments to identify the most imperiled species and ecosystems found on their lands and to develop plans for protecting them. The species and communities to be protected are those ranked by NatureServe as critically imperiled or imperiled. These standards, adopted in 2002, affect the management of more than 100 million acres of forestlands in the United States and Canada. See press release.
Online Access to Biodiversity Data via Web Services
NatureServe, with financial support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Biological Databases and Informatics program (award #0345400) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Information Exchange Network Grant program, is developing a new system for delivering biodiversity data over the Internet. By improving online access to detailed spatial data on species populations and ecological communities, the project will create new opportunities for data exploration, analysis, and synthesis and help advance scientific understanding of the nations biodiversity. The vision for this project is to employ a Web Services framework for providing distributed access to data from all NatureServe member CDCs. This architecture would allow a user (or third party application) to query a central gateway site, with each data provider responding directly to relevant data requests. Learn more.
NatureServe Vista: Decision-Support Systems for Land Use Planning
Integrating biodiversity information into the local land use planning process is the goal of a new software product developed by NatureServe and a group of partners. With major support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, NatureServe has developed NatureServe Vista, decision-support system software designed to help planners understand the biological resources found within their area, identify those lands and waters of high biological value, and evaluate alternative scenarios for use of those lands. The software represents an effort to more effectively incorporate biodiversity considerations into the smart growth framework that is being embraced by many communities as a way of maintaining their quality of life. Learn more.