Use of a GIS-based Model of Habitat Cores and Landscape Corridors for the Virginia Department of Transportation's Project Planning and Environmental Scoping

Report No: 07-R14

Published in 2006

About the report:

As important habitats are being lost to human development, transportation agencies are facing increased expectations that their road projects avoid or minimize further habitat destruction and adverse effects on wildlife populations. Wildlife linkage or landscape corridor analyses are being conducted in an increasing number of states, and more transportation agencies are using this information during the planning of proposed road projects. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's Natural Heritage Program is creating a GIS tool, the Virginia Natural Landscape Assessment (VANLA), that identifies large patches of natural land cover (habitat cores) and the habitat linkages connecting these areas (landscape corridors). This analysis can be integrated into the Virginia Department of Transportation's (VDOT) existing GIS applications for access by staff involved with transportation planning and environmental scoping activities. Analyzing a proposed project in the early stages of project development would allow VDOT to identify important natural resource areas and habitat corridors to avoid or for which mitigation may be appropriate or necessary. This can result in fewer project delays, promote collaboration between VDOT and state natural resource and regulatory agencies, and meet the directives of the new habitat conservation provision in SAFETEA-LU, the federal transportation legislation. In addition, basing particular project decisions on a project's location relative to a habitat corridor can decrease the risk of costly animal-vehicle collisions.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Last updated: November 25, 2023

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