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Creating BioFinder and Vermont Conservation Design

BioFinder Home

BioFinder was first created in 2013 by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources with help of its partners to provide citizens with a tool to explore the distribution and richness of Vermont’s biodiversity and help secure our natural heritage for future generations. BioFinder is the website and mapping interface that hosts the Vermont Conservation Design data and vision for maintaining ecological function.

Documentation for 2023 VCD Update

Vermont Conservation Design

Vermont Conservation Design is the data and the vision that is delivered through the BioFinder map interface. It is a tool that identifies features at the landscape and natural community scales that are necessary for maintaining an ecologically functional landscape – a landscape that conserves current biological diversity and allows species to move and shift in response to climate and land-use changes. At the landscape scale, users can see patterns in Vermont’s forests, waterways, and the places that connect both into functional networks. At the community scale appear significant natural communities, lakes representing high quality examples of different lake types, and similar important features that are vital to assemblages of plants and animals. Finally, a user can see components that support individual species—the habitats and locations on which rare and uncommon species rely, for example. On the map, community and species scale components are combined. For more information about our assessment to determine which Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) are captured by Vermont Conservation Design, click here.

At all scales, Vermont Conservation Design identifies locations of ecological priority. These are divided into "priority" or "highest priority" areas, to allow users to make informed decisions about the locations most suitable for development and those on which to focus conservation efforts. 

What makes Vermont Conservation Design unique is that instead of looking at one ecological component at a time—wetlands, rare species, large forest blocks, etc.—Vermont Conservation Design takes a holistic approach, identifying how these components work together to create a functional network of habitat that can be used by most Vermont species. In other words, all components are combined at each scale to identify overall priorities. For more detailed information on the science and development of Vermont Conservation Design, see these three technical reports:

BioFinder Mapping Module

The BioFinder mapping module consists of Latitude Geographic’s Geocortex Essentials web mapping application, consuming ArcGIS Server GIS mapping services published by the Agency of Digital Services in collaboration with the Agency of Natural Resources. These services can be added to your own web mapping applications and desktop projects by referencing the following RESTful services:

Funding for BioFinder development comes in part from the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Sportfish & Wildlife Restoration Program, and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.