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Gap Analysis -A geographic approach to planning for biological diversity

April 10, 2009

The Mission of the Gap Analysis Project (GAP) is to promote conservation by providing broad geographic information on biological diversity to resource managers, planners, and policy makers who can use the information to make informed decisions.

As part of the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) —a collaborative program to provide increased access to data and information on the nation’s biological resources--GAP data and analytical tools have been used in hundreds of applications: from basic research to comprehensive state wildlife plans; from educational projects in schools to ecoregional assessments of biodiversity.

The challenge: keeping common species common means protecting them BEFORE they become threatened. To do this on a state or regional basis requires key information such as land cover descriptions, predicted distribution maps for native animals, and an assessment of the level of protection currently given to those plants and animals.

GAP works cooperatively with Federal, state, and local natural resource professionals and academics to provide this kind of information. GAP activities focus on the creation of state and regional databases and maps that depict patterns of land management, land cover, and biodiversity. These data can be used to identify “gaps” in conservation--instances where an animal or plant community is not adequately represented on the existing network of conservation lands.

GAP is administered through the U.S. Geological Survey. Through building partnerships among disparate groups, GAP hopes to foster the kind of collaboration that is needed to address conservation issues on a broad scale.

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