As humans continue to alter the landscape and increase pressure on native species and ecosystems, science-based techniques must be used to help guide land use planning and land management decisions. In California, increases in renewable energy development present new challenges for conservation. Regional planning processes driven by stakeholders are being used to guide ecologically responsible development.
The Conservation Biology Institute (CBI) is creating web-based tools to assist stakeholders in identifying areas of high focal species diversity for regional planning efforts. We gather existing species distribution models and develop new ones for species that lack them. By integrating these models in a transparent way, we can identify areas that are likely to support multiple focal species.
The results of this analysis are uploaded to Data Basin (https://databasin.org), an online interactive science-based geospatial platform developed and maintained by CBI, where stakeholders can access and explore the modeling results in detail. Each reporting unit provides a species count, names and pictures of the species in the reporting unit, and links to individual species distribution models or other relevant datasets that the user can overlay on the map for analysis. Supporting documentation including scientific articles and reports are also linked to individual datasets.
This online mapping tool can be used to identify areas that may be suitable for establishing mitigation banks for focal species in advance of future development. We encourage others to adapt this science-based tool to support objective decision-making in land use planning.