Biodiversity, Our Natural Heritage
Biological diversity (biodiversity) is the variety of life and its processes. According to conservation biologists Reed Noss and Allen Copperrider, biodiversity includes fish, wildlife, plants, and other organisms, their genetic differences, the ecosystems in which they occur, and the ecological and evolutionary processes that keep them functioning, changing, and adapting.
This diversity is rooted in place, and Vermont is rich in places where variety thrives. The depths of Lake Champlain, the peaks of the Green Mountains, and the myriad meadows, forests, rivers, streams, and other natural elements in our state provide conditions that fish, wildlife, and other species find desirable and require for their survival. In many cases, such life supports the lives of others—including our own.
Although every location contributes to Vermont’s biological diversity, not all places were created equal. To map the relative contribution of each, places were ranked using the best available science in a consistent and reliable process. Determining the importance of an area is an elemental step in conservation. It supports strategic planning and helps ensure the greatest success when resources are limited. For more on our process of assessing and prioritizing see Creating BioFinder.
BioFinder is the single most comprehensive effort to synthesize Vermont’s biological diversity in map form and to make the information widely available. BioFinder is an interactive tool to inform land-use decision-making and planning, and an educational resource for exploring the richness of Vermont’s biodiversity. Go to the BioFinder Map to learn which components of biodiversity have been mapped in your area.