Ecoregional Assessments for Western North America

In a series of ecoregional assessments, we have identified lands & waters critical to the conservation of biodiversity across western North America. These assessments can be used to:

  • prioritize conservation activities
  • understand the regional significance of a local site
  • evaluate & avoid activities that may adversely affect conservation values

Reports, maps, and geographic data are now available for 19 desert, mountain, grassland and plateau ecoregions across western North America.

Regional Conservation Planning

Along with partners, The Nature Conservancy has completed a series of ecoregional assessments that identify core habitats within our natural infrastructure across western North America. These places represent the best remaining areas to conserve over 1,000 natural communities and over 3,000 rare, unique and endemic species.

Geographic data to provide conservation solutions

Species or subspecies with a global conservation status of globally critically imperiled, globally imperiled, or designated under the US Endangered Species Act.

Species or subspecies with a global conservation status of globally critically imperiled, globally imperiled, or designated under the US Endangered Species Act.

The Nature Conservancy in Arizona has compiled a geographic data set which aggregates the information from 19 ecoregional assessments across western North America. The data set enables exploration of our western landscapes to answer questions such as:

  • Which places are most important to conserve?
  • Who manages our species and habitats?
  • Where are the places that support the most species at risk of extinction?

They can be used with a variety of third-party data sets to evaluate conservation & land management needs and alternative futures that seek to minimize impacts to our natural resources.

Our ecoregional data set for western North America is designed as a personal geodatabase for use with ArcGIS 9.x and Microsoft Access software. It contains geographic features that represent important lands and waters (conservation areas), tables that link these lands to the species and habitats that occur within them (targets), and relationships that allow a user to navigate from conservation areas to targets, and vice-versa.

Broad scientific collaboration

Ecoregional assessments are comprehensive and systematic efforts to identify conservation priorities. The assessments for western North America evaluated over 1 billion acres during an eight-year study period. Collectively, these assessments involved nearly 700 scientists from 125 government agencies, organizations, tribes, universities, and museums.

Many data sets were used to create the ecoregional assessments, including primary data from the scientific literature, new data collected by subject experts, and region-wide data on species and habitats from NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs and the GAP Analysis Program.

New Mexico Statewide Natural Resources Assessment

The New Mexico Statewide Assessment, Strategy and Response Plans identify natural resource conditions, needs and opportunities across all land ownerships in the state. Based on the currently available statewide geospatial resource data, this set of collaboratively developed resource models and map products helps identify priority landscapes for restoration and resource management.

New Mexico Statewide Natural Resources Assessment

The Assessment was developed through a partnership between ENMRD Forestry Division, the New Mexico chapter of The Nature Conservancy, the Forest Guild, and nearly one hundred stakeholders and partners who provided the resource information, advice and insight that guided the project. The data of the Assessment were organized around eight data themes. Themes were suggested in the 2008 Farm Bill and outlined in guidelines provided by USDA Forest Service (Redesign Components: State Assessments & Resource Strategies). Some of these themes were adapted for New Mexico by the Stakeholders These themes are (with Forest Service language in parentheses if adapted):

  • Biodiversity (Fish and Wildlife Habitat)
  • Development Potential (Development Risk)
  • Economic Potential
  • Forest Health (Risk)
  • Fragmentation (Forest Fragmentation)
  • Green Infrastructure
  • Water Quality and Supply
  • Wildfire Risk

Further information on the resource data models developed for the Assessment is available in Data Atlases: Methods and Descriptions of Core Data Models EMNRD Forestry Division web portal.


New Mexico Forestry Division Statewide Strategy and Response Plans

The New Mexico Forestry Division Strategy and Response Plans intend to guide long-term Forestry Division management. In the Strategy Plan, the resource models were combined to represent Four Key Themes to help the Division identify priority landscapes for management.

  • Conserve Working Landscapes
  • Protect Forests and Watersheds from Harm
  • Enhance Public Benefit From Natural Resources
  • Promote Urban and Community Forestry

For each Key Theme, the Forestry Division identified the Issues, Trends, Barriers to Addressing the Issues and the Strategies proposed for implementation, and delineated the priority landscapes where the Forestry Division and partners can work to address the issues. In the Response Plan, the Forestry Division identified how they plan to invest programmatic and personnel resources to address the priorities proposed in the Strategy Plan, including how federal and other funding will be invested and how Forestry Division objectives align with national State and Private Forestry objectives. Online copies of the document are available on the EMNRD Forestry Division web portal.

Southwest Forest Assessment

Southwest Forest Assessment

The Southwest Forest Assessment Project is a collaborative effort with the U.S. Forest Service to develop the scientific foundation to:

  • restore forests, woodlands, grasslands, streams, and watersheds throughout Arizona and New Mexico's National Forests
  • support preparation of Forest Plan revisions
  • assist the public in evaluating restoration and management strategies

Climate Change in New Mexico

Climate Change in New Mexico

In New Mexico and much of the Southwest, natural resource managers lack information about how they can anticipate and adapt to the effects of regional climate change. New Mexico was the first chapter in the Conservancy to answer that need by creating the Climate Change Ecology and Adaptation Program which provides land and water managers with information about climate change in our state's past, present and future.