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Permeable Landscapes

The best landscapes for sustaining wildlife populations into the future are those that are considered "permeable", meaning they allow a diversity of species from black bear to spotted salamander to move freely and safely across the full extent of their ranges. Based on a model-based analysis of relative landscape permeability for the 13-state Northeast region, which was corroborated with land cover maps and species locations, this report and the accompanying spatial data identify priority areas for ensuring connected, permeable landscapes for wildlife, bringing particular attention to places that may represent bottlenecks to regional movement.

Additional Resources

The March 2015 version of the report is available here. (A revised version is expected to be completed in March 2016.)

Datasets associated with the March 2015 are available from TNC's Conservation Gateway, but users are recommended to use the revised version (expected in March 2016) when it is completed. Links will be added at that time.

Technical description

Landscape permeability is the ability of a heterogeneous land area to provide for passage of animals, equivalent to what some authors call “habitat connectivity.”  This project evaluated and mapped the relative landscape permeability across a region of thirteen states, and determined how permeability coincides with the locations and habitat of species of greatest conservation concern.  The analysis was based on new analytical tools (e.g. Circuitscape and Resistant Kernel models) applied to the Northeast Regional Habitat Map, and corroborated with species locations and land cover maps. We aimed to identify where the most important regional movement concentrations are, particularly those areas where movements may be funneled due to constriction in the landscape.  Using this information, we measured the amount of flow, permeability and resistance present in the region’s roads and secured-lands network. The project was guided by a thirteen-state steering committee.

Permeable Landscapes
Resource Type: Ecosystems
Conservation Targets: Terrestrial and non-tidal wetland
Threats/Stressors: Development/Urban Growth, Energy Development
Conservation Action: Site/area protection, Site/area management, Habitat and natural process restoration, Species management, Species recovery