Overview of Features
LandScope America uses an interactive map viewer to bring together maps, data, photos, and stories and provides useful tools and resources for strategic conservation planning and priority-setting. Here we provide a brief overview of some of the website’s key features.
The Map Viewer
A state-of-the art map viewer is central to your website experience. You can always open the map viewer from any page by clicking on "Go to the Map" near the top of the page. Use your mouse to pan and zoom smoothly from a national view to state and local scales anywhere across the country. To take full advantage of what the map viewer has to offer, you should be aware of the difference between base maps, themes, and thematic layers. Here is a guide to that bit of jargon:
Base maps are background image tiles for the map. Your base map choices (the buttons on the top right of the map viewer) are Street, Satellite, or Hybrid. Themes are the spatial data content that overlay on top of the base map. Your theme choices are Conservation Priorities, Protected Areas, Threats, Plants and Animals, and Ecosystems (use the Select Theme button). Each theme automatically displays several thematic layers—different data sets relevant to that theme. For example, the Conservation Priorities theme includes a layer for Nature Conservancy ecoregional priorities, a layer for State Wildlife Action Plans, and layers for specific state-level plans. layers from any theme can be overlaid and viewed together (“mixed and matched”) using the Customize Theme button.
One advanced feature of the LandScope America map viewer is that the data presented are context-sensitive based on the current extent of your map view. If you are viewing a map of the entire U.S., for example, the map viewer lists those data layers that are most relevant and useful at a national scale. As you zoom in to regional or local views, the map viewer shows and lists the data layers that are most relevant to that scale, such as state-scale data.
LandScope America is not intended as a substitute for comprehensive planning tools and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). However, for anyone who is not a GIS user, the map viewer provides a simple, easy-to-use way to view and learn about conservation priorities and protected lands in your area of interest.
Explore Related Items
Here’s another cool feature: the map viewer isn’t just for accessing spatial data; it also is the fastest way to find stories, photos, and other related content for any place. Notice the column on the right-hand side of the map viewer, which we call the “right rail”. Under the Explore Related Items header, you’ll see tabs for Sights and Sounds, Words, and Map Data. The content displayed here changes dynamically depending on where you are on the map! As you zoom in from the Southeast down to central Florida, for example, only the photos, videos, stories, and other related items relevant to central Florida are listed on the right rail. Zoom back out, and you’ll see a different set of related items. You can pop open these items in two ways: either by clicking on thumbnails in the right rail, or by mousing over the symbols on the map.
The website includes a broad array of editorial content organized around three concepts: Explore Places and Topics, Focus and Plan, and Take Action. If you’re interested in conservation, then browsing through these sections of the website will be a bit like losing track of time in a particularly appealing aisle at the local bookstore.
Explore Places and Topics, for example, includes sections such as Open Space 101 and an introduction to the many types of conservation lands. Focus and Plan delves into how conservation priorities are set and different approaches to conservation planning. Take Action is where you’ll learn about things such as conservation easements, public financing mechanisms, and land management practices. Many pieces throughout the website have been contributed by well-known experts: see, for example, Identify Priority Places: A Practitioner’s Guide, by Reed Noss, one of the leading voices in conservation biology.
State Home Pages
As you’re browsing the site, you’ll notice each state has its own home page that serves as your jumping-off point. (A quick way to navigate there is through the Find Your State page). Let’s take Florida as an example. From the LandScope Florida home page, you can read a conservation overview of the state, study its natural geography, and learn about conservation priorities and key threats to Florida’s environment. You’ll discover stories about Florida’s iconic landscapes, such as the Apalachicola River basin, and its important ecosystems and habitats, some of which are found nowhere else in the world. There’s lots of information about the state’s famed plants and animals, lists of rare species, and links to the best places for wildlife viewing.
Finally, you’ll find information on public agencies and private organizations working on natural resource conservation, and references that will help you get involved or even find landowner assistance. Of course, as you drill deeper into each section, a wealth of interesting and useful information opens up. For example, under LandScope Florida’s Natural Geography section, you’ll learn about watersheds, corridors and ecoregions.
LandScope America includes information about natural places and conservation issues for the entire country. In addition, we currently have a special emphasis on five pilot states where our state partners have developed extensive information like that described above: Colorado, Florida, Maine, Virginia and Washington.
For the other 45 states, you’ll mainly find a home page linking to a conservation overview and a description of at least one important statewide conservation priority. We will continue to add more detailed information in these states as partnerships and resources allow.
Find a Land Trust
Local land trusts are the lifeblood of the conservation community, so we want LandScope to quickly connect land trusts with landowners and other constituents. In cooperation with the Land Trust Alliance, we’ve created a land trust directory that makes it easy for you to find a land trust in your state, along with a LandScope America home page for every member land trust of the Alliance, containing quick facts about that trust. Those pages will be upgraded in the next version of the website to allow land trust staff and volunteers to manage their own organizational profile and add news and features about their accomplishments. Here’s a land trust profile page example.
You can register and establish a user profile on LandScope to gain access to additional, personalized features. As a registered user, you can save and retrieve your favorite map views, and share them with colleagues via email. We anticipate adding other powerful features for registered users, such as the ability to contribute photos and stories that will be published via the map viewer, and to manage organizational profiles for your organization. (But registration is always optional, and you don’t need to register to access any content).