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Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program


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The Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program provides current, reliable, objective, accessible information on Pennsylvania’s ecological resources to help inform land-use planning, conservation, and development decisions.

The Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program (PNHP) is a partnership between the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and multiple state agencies: the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Fish and Boat Commission, and the Game Commission. It operates in cooperation with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is a member of NatureServe, the international network of heritage programs.

PNHP collects data and conducts inventories on plants, wildlife, and other natural resources throughout the state. It is recognized for its high-quality scientific work and staff expertise.

The PNHP website features a wealth of information (available free-of-charge) that government agencies, conservation groups, educators, companies, and individuals use in planning and projects. The website’s resources include the following:

  • Plant Communities: Classification and description of different plant communities, fact sheets for each community, and the publication Terrestrial and Palustrine Plant Communities of Pennsylvania 2nd Edition.
  • County Natural Heritage Inventories: Inventories of each county’s most significant natural lands, including maps showing boundaries of the significant areas and narrative descriptions of their natural values.
  • Species Lists: Regularly updated inventory of all plant and wildlife species, plant communities, and geologic features in Pennsylvania for which there is conservation concern.
  • iMapInvasives: Online reporting and data management tool to track invasive species.
  • Vernal Pools: Information about vernal pool ecology and conservation, as well as a citizen-based vernal pool registry and a collection of additional resources.
  • Aquatic Communities: Reports, data, and maps related to the Aquatic Community Classification project, which was created to systematically identify stream community and habitat types for freshwater mussels, macroinvertebrates, and fish.
  • Climate Change Vulnerability Index: List of scores assessing the exposure and sensitivity of 85 animal species to risk factors associated with climate change.
  • Conservation Explorer: Interactive map of protected natural areas to aid conservation planning; users can screen potential projects for Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory (PNDI) review.