Thursday, July 15, 2010
New USGS Land Cover Maps Available
From: E&E PUBLISHING SERVICE, July 14, 2010
Laura Petersen, E&E reporter
Decades of mapping, advances in satellite imagery and a dedication to scientific decisionmaking has resulted in the first comprehensive, interactive land cover map of the United States.
"It's the best imagery we have right now, the best characterization of land cover that exists as far as I know," said John Mosesso, manager of the Gap Analysis Program (GAP), a project of the U.S. Geological Survey that created the map.
The map depicts the extent of forests, grasslands, wetlands and other habitats from coast to coast. USGS has made it searchable by state and region at three different levels of detail using eight, 43 or 590 classification categories. That means a user can view the map as broadly as forest or shrubland, or as specifically as Mediterranean California Lower Montane Black Oak-Conifer Forest and Woodland.
The habitat information can be combined with maps of species distribution and protected areas to see where there are conservation holes. While this can be used for endangered species, GAP's motto is "Keeping common species common." USGS makes no specific recommendations, but the hope is that resources managers will use this information to proactively fill in conservation gaps before habitats are fragmented by development and wildlife pushed toward extinction.
To access the land cover viewer click here and go to the Land Cover Viewer at the bottom of the page.