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First detailed national map of land-cover vegetation released
Date:6/14/2010

The most detailed national vegetation U.S. land-cover map to date was released today by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The map will enable conservation professionals to identify places in the country with sufficient habitat to support wildlife.

The map, produced by the USGS Gap Analysis Program (GAP), can be viewed online and downloaded for free.

"These data are critical for determining the status of biodiversity, as baseline data for assessing climate change impacts, and for predicting the availability of habitat for wildlife," said John Mosesso, Gap Analysis Program Manager. "Large datasets of this type are extremely important to land and wildlife managers because they allow for analysis and planning across extensive geographic areas."

The GAP national land cover data, based on the NatureServe Ecological Systems Classification, is the most detailed, consistent map of vegetative associations ever available for the United States and will help facilitate the planning and management of biological diversity on a regional and national scale.

GAP's mission is to keep common species common by providing information on the status of native species. The creation and dissemination of the national landcover dataset and online map viewer furthers that goal by putting crucial information into the hands of conservation professionals. Information about land cover is a key component of effective conservation planning and the management of biological diversity.

Landcover Map Portrays Complex Data

The final version of the landcover map contains 551 Ecological Systems and modified Ecological Systems (the modified ecological systems represent 32 land use classes which depict developed and/or disturbed land cover classes). The map combines data from previous GAP projects in the Southwest, Southeast, and Northwest United States with recently updated California data. For areas of the continental United States where ecological
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Contact: Ron Sepic
ron_sepic@usgs.gov
703-648-4218
United States Geological Survey
Source:Eurekalert

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