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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 conducted with the permission of the landowner.

  • Natural Heritage scientists collect information on approximately 233 natural community types, 194 vertebrates, 611 invertebrates, and 625 plants representing approximately 36% of the state's vertebrate species and 28% of the state's plants.
  • Over 2400 conservation sites, containing more than 9000 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. Recent inventories have included:

  • all National Park Service lands, the Appalachian Trail, major Department of Defense facilities, National Forest lands, State Parks, and others.
  • Inventory staff also took 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 is leading 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.