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Natural Area Inventory

DCR's natural heritage inventory is the most comprehensive, statewide inventory documenting the location and ecological status of rare plant and animal species and natural communities. This ongoing inventory is conducted by staff ecologists, botanists and zoologists, contract staff, volunteers and cooperators. Inventory efforts focus on globally rare species and communities. Aerial photographs, geology, soil and topographic maps and a good understanding of the species and communities habitat requirements direct the scientists efforts. All work is on private land is conducted with the permission of the landowner.

  • Natural Heritage scientists collect information on approximately 311 natural community types, 188 vertebrates, 782 invertebrates, and 613 plants representing approximately 33% of the state's vertebrate species and 19% of the state's plants.
  • Over 2011 conservation sites, containing more than 7662 rare species populations and natural communities have been found to date.

In addition to inventories for specific plants and communities, inventories are conducted to assist private and public land managers. Inventories have included:

  • all National Park Service lands, the Appalachian Trail, all major Department of Defense facilities, selected National Forest lands, many State Park lands, and others.
  • The lead role in a multi-state, coastal migratory songbird study, which served as a model for follow-up projects in the northeast and gulf coast. The work led to the development of sound conservation measures for migratory songbirds on Virginia's eastern shore.

Click to see the staff of the Natural Heritage Inventory section.