We provide a more comprehensive methodology for the conservation module, click here to view or download the Conservation Analytic Technical Guide. 

NOTE - The Conservation Module is available for projects in California only. 


The Conservation Module provides the results of changes you’ve made to your base canvas. It includes 19 Layers that contribute to the module’s results and help you understand the module’s report. These layers can be used in scenario planning to avoid affecting natural and working lands during scenario development.

Agriculture Model

Agricultural Production Value - {Region}  

  •     Average production value per harvested acre by crop type.  

Farm Mapping & Monitoring Program (FMMP) - California  

  • Farmland mapped into four categories, according to soil characteristics and irrigation patterns: prime farmland (which has the best combination of physical and chemical features for sustaining long-term agricultural production), farmland of Statewide Importance, Unique farmland, and farmland of Local Importance.  
  • In addition to food production, farms can provide wildlife habitats, recharge groundwater, provide local jobs, and contribute directly and indirectly to the local economy.  

Carbon Model    

Above Ground Carbon Density for Wildland Ecosystems - {Region}  

  • The amount of carbon stored in natural vegetation. Trees and plants take carbon dioxide from the air and store it as carbon in tree trunks and other plant matter. Measuring and tracking changes in this carbon storage can be important for tracking progress towards the State’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. 
  • This metric accounts for the above-ground carbon stocks in live vegetation such as forests and shrubs. Data is displayed in quintiles, according to USFS section.  

    Organic Carbon in Soil (0-30cm) - {Region}  

  • Organic carbon in the top 30 cm of the soil profile. 30% of the carbon stored in soil may be emitted when the soil is disturbed by development or agricultural tillage, adding to atmospheric greenhouse gas.  

Habitat Model

Resistance to Species Movement - California

  • Natural lands and lands with light anthropogenic uses allow for species movement unimpeded by human modification of the landscape. 
  • Roads, buildings, infrastructure, and the associated noise, disturbance, and other aspects of an altered landscape lower species movement potential by increasing the risk (or perceived risk) of harm.   

 Important Bird Areas - California 

Audubon California has identified and mapped these Important Bird Areas. Part of an international effort, these sites were nominated by local experts and selected according to strict criteria: 

  • Support over 1% of the global or 10% of the state population of one or more sensitive species 
  • Support more than nine sensitive bird species
  • 10,000 or more observable shorebirds in one day
  • 5,000 or more observable waterfowl in one day 

 Essential Habitat Connectivity Areas - California  

  • The Essential Connectivity Map depicts large, relatively natural habitat blocks (Natural Landscape Blocks) that support native biodiversity and areas essential for ecological connectivity between the blocks. 
  • It was commissioned by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG).  

Water Model

Drinking Water Source Watersheds - California

  • Watersheds that supply drinking water to municipalities in California. 
  • Natural lands in drinking water supply watersheds can enhance and maintain drinking water quality by filtering sediment and pollutants before they enter rivers, streams, and reservoirs..  

Floodplains  - California

  • The 100-year floodplain is the area with a 1% annual risk of flood. Natural and agricultural lands in these flood hazard zones can help reduce flood risk for populations and agriculture that are downstream.  

Agricultural Water Demand - {Region}

  • Average water demand (acre-feet per acre) categorized by crop type and county.

NHDPlus Flowlines   Buffered (150m) - California

  • 150-meter buffer around streams, rivers, and artificial waterways. Natural lands in the area around waterways can enhance and maintain water quality by filtering sediment and pollutants before they enter surface water.  

Groundwater Recharge Potential - California

  • Groundwater recharge occurs when surface water, such as rain or snowmelt, filters down through the soil, below the root zone. 
  • When recharge takes place above aquifers, irrigation and drinking water supplies are replenished for future use. However, recharge can be limited when the surface is disturbed by activities such as paving, urban development, and logging. 
  • Groundwater recharge can be facilitated by the creation of retention ponds and rain gardens, which allow water to percolate into local water supplies.  

Hydrologic Regions - California

  •     Hydrologic regions defined by California Water Plan (CWP).  

Active River Areas - California

  • Active River Areas (ARAs) include the channels and riparian land necessary to accommodate the physical and ecological processes associated with the river system. They account for the areas and processes that form, change, and maintain a wide array of habitat types and conditions in and along rivers and streams. 
  • Natural land cover in the Active River Area maintains and enhances water quality by filtering excess sediment and pollutants from surface runoff before the runoff enters rivers.  

Wetlands - California

  • Wetlands are lands permanently or seasonally saturated with water. This saturation creates a distinct ecosystem with specially adapted plants and animals. Wetlands provide a multitude of ecological, economic, and social benefits. 
  • They provide habitats for fish, wildlife, and plants (many of which have commercial or recreational value), recharge groundwater, reduce flooding, provide clean drinking water, regulate our climate, offer food and fibers, and support cultural and recreational activities.  

NHDPlus Catchments - California

  • Catchments (subwatersheds) are derived from the NHDPlus Flowline data and categorized by watershed integrity class: natural, important riparian buffer, or degraded.  
  • Natural catchments (>70% natural) have land cover within the watershed that supports water quality by decreasing the potential for non-point source pollution from runoff.  
  • Important riparian buffer catchments have natural lands proximal to riparian areas (which are 70% natural and within 150 m of the stream). The catchments can enhance water quality by filtering sediment, nitrogen, phosphorous, and other pollutants. 
  • Degraded catchments have unnatural land cover (<70%) in both the subwatershed and riparian areas and are likely to degrade water quality.   

NHDPlus Flowlines Buffered (150m) - California

  • 150-meter buffer around streams, rivers, and artificial waterways. Natural lands in the area around waterways can enhance and maintain water quality by filtering sediment and pollutants before they enter surface water. 

Environment Model

Conservation Module Landscape Types - {Region}  

  • TNC Land cover types in California. These are categorized into 25 types, which are grouped into Natural, Developed, and Agricultural categories.
  • This layer was created with the National Land Cover Database (NLCD) and the Vegetation Layer (FVEG) of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Fire and Resource Assessment Program (FRAP).  

Ecoregions - California  

  • Level 3 Eco-regions. 
  • Eco-regions are areas defined by environmental conditions, especially climate, landforms, and soil characteristics.  

USFS Subsections - California 

  • Eco-region Subsections. Subsections nest within an eco-region. They are areas with relatively homogeneous physical and biological factors that interact to form environments of similar productive capabilities, responses to disturbances, and potentials for resource management.
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