Thursday, April 03, 2008

Colorado Natural Heritage Program

The Colorado Natural Heritage Project (CNHP) is the Human Genome Project (HGP) of Colorado's environment -- nobody's really cataloged all the different ecosystems - how they are composed and comprised, what separates (gradations or demarcations), how each responds to the "disturbing presence" of humans. Plus, it will help us save at least a little bit of every habitat and hence, hopefully, at least some of every species.

Of course, we already know what we'll find -- that there's not enough of the environment left to save all the species. We've already destroyed too much of some kinds of deserts and wetlands...its as if scientists, setting out on the HGP discovered that we'd already erased large parts of our own DNA. These environments are just as essential: we are a combination of nature and nurture, genes and environments. When we loose an entire class of environment, we loose that potential self expression as surely as if we lost a segment of our DNA.

Also, GIS mapping speaks to a larger audience, including management professionals. To quote Van Wagtendonk, Fire Ecology of the Sierra Nevada in The Wild Fire Reader (Wuerthner, ed) 2006

"The...[GIS] analysis was used extensively in the development of Yosemite National Park's current fire management program. Although the nature and extent of the ... [problem] ... had long been recognized, the maps depicting the results of the analysis reinforced this recognition and communicated the extent and severity of the problem."

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