Wednesday, July 14, 2021

PA Natural Heritage Program 2020 Annual Report Now Available

PA Natural Heritage Program has published its 2020 Annual Report to share the work of its partners and dedicated environmental practitioners who succeeded over the past year in delivering important services in support of Pennsylvania’s biodiversity.

From the introduction to the Annual Report--

We hardly have to state that we faced some challenges in 2020 – everyone had to adjust and adapt as the pandemic descended upon the country and the state. In many ways our staff were fortunate; we were able to work remotely and had projects that were established and funded. 

It took time for us to change our project plans and move into a new way of working but once we did, we made progress. 

We worked closely with our partners and funders to adjust scopes, deliverables, and timelines and without exception, we had great support in determining how to proceed. Several projects were completely delayed, some trimmed back, and a number went ahead more or less as planned.

Although social distancing protocols constricted our field work, we still accomplished a lot.  We completed several multi-year projects with broad scopes that involved many staff. 

The Natural Heritage Inventories update for southwestern Pennsylvania required nearly four years to compile data and map over 600 Natural Heritage Areas within the 10 counties of the Southwest Planning Region. 

As part of our wetlands ecology work, we finished our study of peatland plant communities, adding to or revising the information from 95 community locations to our database and providing a baseline inventory of vegetation, birds, butterflies, and moths. 

These unique communities may be subject to greater impacts from climate change and our work provides information for assessing changes in years to come.

Continued work in other unique habitats included the restoration of vernal pools and wet meadows, a survey of native bees on barrens, and inventory and monitoring of river scour. 

These projects and others involving fen communities and invasive species have allowed us to contribute to the stewardship necessary to maintain the integrity of species populations and natural communities. 

The Pennsylvania Plant Conservation Network has been pivotal in helping to advance stewardship and tapping into PNHP’s expertise.

As always, the PNHP partners each have an important role in helping to create priorities and keep the program strong and relevant. Collaborations that cut across agencies and priorities also help to advance our mission. 

Our recently completed climate change connectivity study for DCNR will hopefully play a role in how the state’s agencies, nonprofit conservation organizations, and funders approach land protection and management throughout the state.

Click Here for a copy of the annual report.

The Program

The PA Natural Heritage Program consists of staff from the DCNR Conservation Science and Ecological Resources Division, Fish & Boat Commission Biodiversity Section, Game Commission Wildlife Diversity and Habitat Protection Sections, and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Natural Heritage Program.  

WPC Natural Heritage Program staff work across all taxonomic groups and have primary responsibility for managing and providing information for PNHP tools and products. 

Partner agency staff provide support and guidance related to the conservation of their jurisdictional taxa. They collaborate on projects, leveraging capacity and often complementary expertise. 

Across the partnership, they collect, analyze, and provide data to effectively conserve the state’s biodiversity.

Conservation Explorer

The Program also maintains the Conservation Explorer web-based tool to help DEP permit applicants identify potential project conflicts with rare, threatened and endangered plant and animal species in Pennsylvania.

For more information on the program, initiatives and available information resources, visit the PA Natural Heritage Program website and visit their News & Events webpage.  Follow them on FacebookClick Here to sign up for regular updates from the Program.

[Posted: July 14, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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