Map of Biodiversity Importance

A collaborative effort to identify the places most important for conserving at-risk species

Through a landmark collaboration, NatureServe is poised to release a portfolio of maps that identify critical areas for species conservation in the contiguous United States. With support from Esri, The Nature Conservancy, and Microsoft, NatureServe and our network of member programs have created a comprehensive set of habitat models for imperiled species. Analyzed in conjunction with protected areas boundaries, these data support mapping areas of high biodiversity importance—an invaluable input to guide effective conservation decision-making and reduce regulatory conflict. To learn more about the project, contact Regan Smyth at or Healy Hamilton at

Unveiling at the Esri User Conference

The first iteration of the Map of Biodiversity Importance was unveiled in front of 19,000 people at the Esri User Conference in July 2019. Watch the plenary presentation below, given by Healy Hamilton and Regan Smyth, to learn more about how the map was created and the impacts it will have for conservation.

Major Outputs

  • Unparalleled maps identifying the most critical areas for biodiversity conservation in the contiguous United States
  • Habitat models for over 2,000 at-risk species that NatureServe can adapt to support your management needs

Project Highlights

  • From start to finish, the mapping was informed by the authoritative data and deep local knowledge of the NatureServe network, the nation’s leading source of data and expertise for at-risk species.
  • Products include data for a taxonomically and ecologically diverse set of species, including vascular plants, aquatic invertebrates, and pollinating insects—as well as vertebrates.
  • Detailed habitat maps for each species were built using state-of-the-art machine learning and cloud computing resources from Microsoft's AI for Earth program.
  • A national library of high-resolution environmental predictor data and a collaborative online model review tool will support refined habitat mapping into the future. 

For more information, contact or

Preliminary outputs of the Map of Biodiversity Importance, unveiled at the Esri User Conference on July 8, will be refined as more habitat models are finalized throughout 2019.

Project Partners

Network Programs Involved

With additional project support in the form of data and species expertise from across the NatureServe network.