Map Project Receives $ 100,000 Grant to Help Wildlife Adapt to Climate Change | Local news

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department received a competitive grant of $ 106,256 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to harness groundbreaking new data to help conservation planners protect plants, animals, and their habitats in the face of climate change.

Vermont Conservation Design is a science-based assessment of Vermont’s ecologically functional landscape that serves as a guide for strategic fish and wildlife conservation. “With this grant, we are pleased to refine our assessment to better identify countries and bodies of water that are contributing to Vermont’s healthy environment while addressing climate change,” said Wildlife Director Mark Scott.

First published in 2015, Vermont Conservation Design maps the habitat needed to ensure Vermont wildlife remains healthy and abundant. Six years later, new nationwide “lidar” data from the Vermont Center for Geographic Information provides the opportunity to update this conservation tool.

Lidar, short for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing technology that uses airborne laser scanners and a global positioning system to map landscape texture and allow researchers to better understand land cover. It offers 400 times the resolution of any previous land cover data.

The new data will reveal critical details for wildlife movements and ecological connections, such as hedges through fields and forest edges near roads. These connections allow animals to move from one habitat block to the next as they adjust their ranges to accommodate climate change.

“These very detailed land cover maps will help us find the places where wildlife like black bears and bobcats can roam between large patches of forest,” said Jens Hilke, conservation planner at Vermont Fish and Wildlife. “It is critical that wildlife be able to move around the state and beyond, especially as climate change is pushing plants and animals into new habitats.”

The federal support for this project underscores the leading role of the department in the field of scientifically based nature conservation. “The Competitive State Wildlife Grants provide a proactive, collaborative and innovative mechanism to address significant threats to our country’s valued wildlife and their habitats,” said Martha Williams, assistant director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

“This grant enables us to improve and accelerate our work with new scientific knowledge so that priority species from moose and northern long-eared to native bees and rare plants can stay healthy and adapt to climate change in Vermont and beyond.” added Scott. ”

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