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Natural Heritage Program - Inventory Section

The inventory process begins by determining which species are rare and which natural communities are significant. This is an ongoing process, which relies on many informational sources for the status of each species and community type in the state and across their ranges. Those that are considered the most imperiled typically receive the highest priority for inventory. 

Scientists, using their knowledge of a species’ or community’s habitat requirements, rely on geologic maps, soils maps, topographic maps and aerial photographs to help focus their search. Once potential habitat is identified, landowner permission is secured and staff members conduct an inventory of the site. Because several rare species and communities may be found in association with each other, a thorough search may require visits at various times of the year by different staff representing a wide range of expertise. 

Inventory staff conduct much of its work under contract to public and private organizations. One major client is the federal government. Recent inventories have included Virginia’s National Park Service lands, the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, and major Department of Defense facilities. Other inventories have been conducted along the entire Appalachian Trail and at selected state parks. 

Inventory work is not finished with the completion of site visits. The location and condition of natural heritage resources must be thoroughly and consistently documented for uses both within and outside the Natural Heritage Program. Contract work usually requires detailed reports and staff make frequent contributions to scientific journals. The inventory staff is also called upon to comment on potential impacts from proposed development projects and to respond to queries from other scientists and the public. 

See our website for more information on the inventory section

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