Monday, September 15, 2014

A streamlined, GIS version of USDA's Environmental Benefits Index

USDA calculates the environmental benefits of applying conservation easements to farmland.  The University of Minnesota has developed an online tool for mapping three important components used by decision-makers to prioritize farmland conservation funding:

Soil loss is calculated using the Universal Soil Loss Equation, which factors in slope angle and distance, soil texture,

Water quality risk was calculated using a Stream Power Index, and proximity of land parcels to streams.

Habitat quality was calculated using by intersecting known stressors such as roads and development with known areas of high quality habitat, such as areas with endemic or endangered species, high biodiversity, and/or high game abundance.

The combined metric for all three layers generates the Environmental Benefits Index.
Screenshot from maptool from the EBI page of the Natural Resources Research Institute at the University of Minnesota.

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