Map of Biodiversity Importance

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

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.

Through a landmark collaboration, NatureServe is developing an unparalleled tool for identifying the places most critical for conserving at-risk species in the contiguous United States. With support from Esri, The Nature Conservancy, and Microsoft, NatureServe and our network of state natural heritage programs are modeling habitat for more than 2,600 at-risk, taxonomically and ecologically diverse species. These complex data will be synthesized into a map of biodiversity importance—a dynamic, transparent, and repeatable guide to effective conservation decision-making. 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

  • An unparalleled map identifying the most critical areas for conservation in the contiguous United States
  • Over 2,600 detailed species habitat maps to support better management of individual at-risk species and reduce regulatory conflict

Project Highlights

  • Habitat maps for each species are being modeled using authoritative data from the nation’s leading source of precise location data for at-risk species, the NatureServe network.
  • In collaboration with NatureServe, Esri is developing a national library of high-resolution environmental predictor layers to support modeling based on factors relevant to a species’ natural history. Esri is also providing technological support and online applications improving workflows for model reviews.
  • Microsoft’s AI for Earth program is supporting a state-of-the-art cloud computing platform to facilitate high-volume, data-rich modeling through Azure.
  • NatureServe and our natural heritage network modeling centers are drawing on our deep knowledge of species biology and extensive experience modeling habitat to develop and review all the models.

For more information, contact or

Project Partners



Network Programs Involved



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