State fisheries and wildlife agencies need a consistent habitat classification system to build current, digital habitat maps to effectively implement State Wildlife Action Plans that help protect wildlife and their habitats. In response to this growing need, the Northeast Terrestrial Wildlife Habitat Classification System (NETWHCS) was developed with financial support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Each of the 14 Northeast jurisdictions (including D.C.) participated and contributed in-kind support. Information on the sister project - the Northeastern Aquatic Habitat Classification System - can be found here. Together, the Aquatic and Terrestrial Classification Systems and Aquatic Spatial Data and Terrestrial Spatial Data greatly enhance state and regional conservation among the northeastern states.
The Northeast Terrestrial Wildlife Habitat Classification System (NETWHCS) is a flexible framework for characterizing wildlife habitat that works on two levels – habitat systems and structural modifiers. The basic layer is the habitat system which corresponds to the Ecological Systems developed by NatureServe, with additional systems for altered habitats and land-use types. Because most habitat systems can incorporate substantial variation in vegetative species dominance, successional stage, and other characteristics that are relevant to wildlife use, the classification superimposes a set of structural modifiers. The combination of habitat system with structural modifiers provides a powerful tool for assessing habitat. The NETWHCS has been designed for maximum compatibility with existing habitat classification efforts in the northeast, including LANDFIRE and the GAP Analysis Program. The habitat classification, presented in an Excel workbook with seven worksheets, is hierarchical for habitat systems consistent with the Federal Geographic Data Committee vegetation standard and can be scaled to different applications.
The NE Terrestrial Habitat Classification System files folder can be downloaded below and includes the final report with user guide, Excel Spreadsheet of the NETWHCS, a Crosswalk between habitat types listed in SWAPs and the regional habitat systems, and Mapping Capabilities which is a documentation of each state's wildlife habitat mapping resources. The Ecological Systems report by Nature Serve includes the Field Key to the Sytems and Habitat Systems of the Northeastern US. A report with a standardized map of secure (protected) areas in the Northeast is also provided in the folder. Additionally, this RCN project used the NETWHCS to construct comprehensive terrestrial wildlife habitat spatial data of the northeastern region.
For more information and to keep up with the most recent version of the map, please visit The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Gateway.
The Secured Lands dataset is a cooperative project led by The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Regional office, involving all the Conservancy’s eastern state offices and relying on data from 14 state agencies and many private organizations. We began building this dataset in 2005 and are now on our third revision (2007 version). In scope it includes all public and private lands that are permanently secured against conversion to development. The land may be owned in fee or held with an easement but the protection must be permanent. Our geographic area includes Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, District of Columbia and Ohio.
Ecological Systems of the United States - a working classification of U.S. terrestrial systems.