© Bruce McNitt/Panoramic Images (Virginia)

Virginia ConservationVision

The Virginia ConservationVision consists of seven map-based models that can help guide effective conservation by helping government and private organizations identify important natural and cultural resources in Virginia. he models were developed in collaboration with several partnering agencies (e.g. the Virginia DEQ, Coastal Zone Management Program and the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation), with guidance from stakeholder involvement, and using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and a variety of relevant input datasets. The models can be used individually, or integrated together to map prominent conservation priorities as part of a green infrastructure approach to land use planning.

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Virginia ConservationVision Models

Ecological Models

The Ecological Models include the Virginia Natural Lands Assessment (VaNLA), the Virginia Wildlife Action Plan, and the Virginia Biodiversity Assessment using species and natural community information from DCR’s Natural Heritage Program. The VaNLA is a landscape-scale GIS analysis for identifying, prioritizing, and linking natural habitats in Virginia. It identifies and connects the most important natural, unfragmented lands based on their known and estimated capacity for harboring functioning ecosystems.

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Cultural Asset Model

The Virginia Cultural Asset Model is a statewide model that ranks the cultural value of lands in Virginia. Virginia Natural Heritage worked closely with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to identify and prioritize important cultural assets in Virginia, including archaeological and architectural sites, and American Indian Areas.

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Vulnerability Model

The Virginia Vulnerability Model (or growth prediction model) consists of four statewide models showing predicted growth patterns. The model uses GIS and statistical methods to analyze housing allocation, lot size estimation, growth hotspots, and travel time proximity to model urban, suburban (urban fringe) and rural (outside the urban fringe) growth patterns.

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Forest Economics Model

The Forest Economics Model is a statewide GIS model of viable forestlands ranked by their economic value. Virginia Natural Heritage Program worked closely with the Virginia Department of Forestry to analyze forest attributes, biophysical characteristics, management constraints and socioeconomic influences.

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Recreation Model

The Virginia Recreation Model is a statewide GIS model showing federal, state or locally managed lands with recreation opportunities. The Virginia Natural Heritage Program worked closely with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries as well as Virginia DCR’s Division of Planning and Recreation and additional data contributors to analyze a variety of recreational datasets (including but not limited to hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, parks, trails, population density influences, and public access) in an effort to model publicly managed recreational value across the landscape.

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Watershed Integrity Model

The Virginia Watershed Integrity Model is a statewide GIS model that ranks the relative value of land as it contributes to watershed integrity. In other words, rather than taking a ‘water quality’ approach, this model assesses the relative impacts of actions on lands, on the aquatic ecology of streams in their associated watersheds. Virginia Natural Heritage worked closely with the Virginia Department of Forestry and Virginia Commonwealth University Center for Environmental Studies to analyze a variety of parameters focused on identifying important terrestrial features that influence water resources and, therefore, watershed integrity.

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Agricultural Model

The Virginia Agricultural Model is a statewide GIS model that displays important agricultural lands, or prime farmlands in Virginia. This model was developed at DCR-Virginia Natural Heritage, in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. This model analyzes parameters such as soils, slope, land use and historic farms.

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