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County natural heritage inventories
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
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County Natural Heritage Inventories focus on areas that are the best examples of ecological resources in a county. Although agricultural lands and open space may be included as part of inventory areas, the emphasis for the designation and delineation of the areas are the ecological values present. Important selection criteria for Natural Heritage Areas are the existence of habitat for plants and animals of special concern, the existence of uncommon or especially important natural communities, and the size and landscape context of a site containing good quality natural features. Large areas and areas that are minimally disturbed by development provide the backbone that links habitats and allows plants and animals to shift and move across sizable portions of the landscape. The polygons in this layer represent two types of conservation areas. A Biological Diversity Area (BDA) is defined as an area containing plants or animals of special concern at state or federal levels, exemplary natural communities, or exceptional native diversity. BDAs include both the immediate habitat and surrounding lands important in the support of these special elements. A Landscape Conservation Area (LCA) is defined as an area a large contiguous area that is important because of its size, open space, habitats, and/or inclusion of one or more Biological Diversity Areas. Although an LCA includes a variety of land uses, it typically has not been heavily disturbed and thus retains much of its natural character.