© Bruce McNitt/Panoramic Images (Virginia)

Virginia DCR - Natural Heritage Program

In 1986 the Commonwealth of Virginia entered into a cooperative agreement with The Nature Conservancy to establish the Virginia Natural Heritage Program. This was the state’s first step toward developing a comprehensive approach for conserving Virginia’s rare plant and animal populations, and natural communities – what are referred to as natural heritage resources. 

In July of 1988, the Virginia Natural Heritage Program came under the direction of the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The Natural Heritage Program's (DCR-DNH) mission is conserving Virginia's biodiversity through inventory, protection, and stewardship.

Finally, in 1989, The Virginia Natural Area Preserves Act, 10.1-209 through 217 of the Code of Virginia, was passed and codified DCR's powers and duties related to statewide biological inventory: maintaining a statewide database for conservation planning and project review, land protection for the conservation of biodiversity, and the protection and ecological management of natural heritage resources (the habitats of rare, threatened, and endangered species, significant natural communities, geologic sites, and other natural features). DCR-DNH represents the first comprehensive attempt to identify the most significant natural areas in the Commonwealth through an intensive statewide inventory of plants, animals, natural communities, and other features that are exemplary, rare, or endangered on a global or statewide basis. 

DCR-DNH consists of five major sections: 

Program Sections

Other Programs

Quick Facts

Virginia DCR - Natural Heritage Program
600 East Main Street; 24th Floor
Richmond, VA 23219

Contact Information

Phone: (804) 786-7951
Fax: (804) 371-2674


Founded in: 1986

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