Biodiversity is the variety
of life that surrounds us, including all the earth’s plants, animals, their
habitats, and the natural processes of which they are a part.
Biodiversity can be viewed
on many levels. At the highest level, there are all the different species on
the planet. On a much smaller scale, biodiversity can be viewed within Pennsylvania,
in a certain forest or within a pond in a neighborhood park.
Biodiversity is the life
support system of our planet -- we depend on it for the air we breathe, the food
we eat, and the water we drink. Wetlands filter pollutants from water, trees
and plants absorb carbon, and bacteria and fungi break down organic material
and fertilize the soil.
It has been shown that native species richness is
linked to the health of ecosystems, as is the quality of life for humans.
Much of DCNR's
work focuses on the conservation of Pennsylvania’s biodiversity through program
and land management goals. It is a key element in maintaining ecosystem
integrity, viability, and resilience across all the commonwealth’s ecological
communities. DCNR’s biodiversity conservation work falls under three main
Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program
Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program (PNHP) provides scientific information,
expertise, and assistance to support the conservation of biological diversity.
PNHP tracks the occurrence and location of native plant, animal, natural
community, and geologic resources, with a focus on rare and endangered species.
PNHP conducts inventories and
collects data for use in guiding conservation work, land-use planning, and land
development. DCNR coordinates this partnership among the department and:
Wild Resource Conservation Program
Resource Conservation Program primarily finances research and protection
efforts for native, non-game, and wild plant species.
Funds from the program
Supported the reintroduction of otters, osprey, peregrine falcons, and
fishers to Pennsylvania
Identified new plant and animal species
plant populations within the state
Researched habitat for migrating birds
Provided educational materials to schools
approximately 2.5 million acres of forest and park land covering a variety of
ecosystems and plant and animal habitats. This includes conducting management
activities to benefit rare wildlife, important game species, and their unique
habitats across Pennsylvania.