Incorporating the NH Wildlife Action Plan Into a Natural Resource Inventory

wetland and forest - Dave Govatski
Photos by David Govatski
Pond by Dave Govatski

A natural resource inventory (NRI) identifies and describes natural resources in a given locale. Natural resources can be defined as critical resources supplied by nature that are irreplaceable or very expensive to replace if used up or destroyed. Examples of natural resources are soils, wetlands, other habitats, water, plants, and wildlife. It is important to identify these resources for the health and well being of New Hampshire residents. You may have already experienced the effects of lost natural resources by noticing loss of open space and recreational areas, contamination of ground and surface waters, less diversity of wildlife, and increased erosion and flooding.

To protect these natural resources, it is essential to first identify, map, and describe where on the landscape they currently exist. Many communities have recognized the need for conservation planning, and conducting a natural resource inventory or "NRI" is the first step in doing so. An excellent guide on conducting a natural resource inventory is Natural Resources Inventories: A Guide for New Hampshire Communities and Conservation Groups, revised and updated by Amanda Stone (2001). It can be downloaded from the University of New Hampshire's Cooperative Extension Program - click here (large PDF download alert - this file is 29 MB and will take some time, even with a high-speed connection.)

The first set of maps you need for this inventory are all available in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data. Since the guide was created prior to the New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan (WAP), the list of the maps you might want has been updated to include WAP data, click here to download a PDF of this revised Table 1 (55 KB). To obtain the GIS data, either download it from GRANIT, NH's online GIS clearinghouse, or contact NH Fish and Game's Wildlife Division for a CD containing this data. It is also available for viewing on GRANIT's online Data Mapper program at


The New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan: To Keep Common Species Common

The Wildlife Action Plan is an excellent source of information on wildlife and habitats that can easily be incorporated into an NRI. The WAP identifies habitats and species in greatest need of conservation, identifies threats to their continued existence, and offers strategies to address these threats statewide. The WAP focuses on nongame species, but the habitats, threats, and strategies encompass all species, including game. The following are suggestions on how to incorporate the WAP into an NRI:


Barrington land cover

Here is a Wildlife Habitat Land Cover Map for the town of Barrington. The more common habitat types are Appalachian Oak Pine in brown, Hemlock Harwood Pine in green, and Floodplain Forest in yellow. These maps were created using statewide data, so to get habitat land cover data on a more finite scale, such as a town forest or your backyard, you should do an on-the-ground search.

1. Wildlife Habitat Land Cover Map - Use this map to help identify the different types of habitat that can be found in your area.  Sixteen habitats were mapped statewide using GIS and are available for use in any GIS program. For more information on this map, click here to go to habitat mapping page.


highest ranked habitat map

Here is a Highest Ranked Wildlife Habitat by Ecological Condition Map for the town of Gorham. The pink is the highest ranked habitat in the state and the green is the highest ranked habitat in the biological region. This map can help prioritize potential areas for conservation.

2. Highest Ranked Wildlife Habitat by Ecological Condition Map - This statewide map helps to identify where on the landscape a particular patch of habitat has good biological diversity (particularly in terms of rare species), is connected to other similar patches in the landscape, and is not highly impacted by humans. The highest ranked habitat in NH, highest ranked habitat in biological region, and supporting landscape are mapped in GIS. This data can be used to help identify potential areas for conservation. The data can be re-ranked to better reflect a smaller area, such as your town and the surrounding towns. Looking at the natural resources beyond your boundary is critical to protecting those within it. For more information on this map, click here to go to the habitat condition page.


This is a page from the WAP Appendix D: Habitat and Species Crosswalk. Use this crosswalk to reference which species could be found in each habitat.

3. WAP Appendix D: Habitat and Species Crosswalk - Use this appendix to cross reference what species could be found in each habitat or which habitats could support one of the species. Remember that latitude, size of parcel, time of year, and other factors play an important role in whether or not a species will be found in a particular habitat. You can look at the distribution maps to see if a particular species might be in your area. Note that it might not be recorded from your town, but if it is in towns in your region, it could be in yours also. The WAP only includes the 123 species of greatest conservation concern and therefore common species are not included in this crosswalk tool. Click here to download Appendix D (PDF, 85 KB)

species profiles

This is the first page of the American bittern species profile. Each of the species in greatest need of conservation has a detailed profile that can be found in Appendix A.

4. WAP Appendix A: Species Profiles - You can to use the profiles to identify potential species on lands that have not had a detailed wildlife inventory. If you have done more detailed inventories, and have identified one of the 123 species of greatest conservation need from the WAP, you can include information from the profiles to indicate what your community could do to help that species. You can also reference the profile and/or copy it into an appendix into your NRI document. Make sure to report your findings to the Wildlife Sightings Database (scheduled to be running Winter 2009) so your data can be incorporated in the next version of WAP maps as rare species information influences the Highest Ranked Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Focus Area Maps.

This appendix is in 5 parts, by species group. Click to download:


habitat profiles

This is the first page of the Appalachian Oak Pine Forest habitat profile. Each of the habitats has a detailed profile that can be found in Appendix B.

5. WAP Appendix B: Habitat Profiles - Use these profiles to better understand the habitats that occur in your town. You can identify some of the most significant habitat types and recommend management or protection strategies in your conservation plan.  These can also be incorporated directly into your NRI. Click here to download Appendix B (PDF, 3.3 MB)

risks Conservation Strategies
This is the first page of the WAP risk: Altered Hydrology. For each threat in Chapter 4, you can find a definition, expert opinion, known wildlife exposure pathway, and research needs.

This is the first page of Chapter 5, entitled Conservation Strategies. In this chapter you can find detailed information about how to address the threats to habitats and species in New Hampshire.

6. WAP Chapters 4 and 5: Risks and Strategies - Most NRIs include suggestions for protecting the identified natural resources.  Incorporate the wildlife risk summaries outlined in Chapter 4 and conservation strategies outlined in Chapter 5 into your NRI.  

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