The Geospatial Biodiversity Assessment Toolkit (GeoBAT) is a set of ArcGIS geoprocessing tools designed to evaluate overall biodiversity support potential of a landscape under alternative management scenarios. The toolkit can be used to prioritize key areas for protection or to identify equitable areas to protect for various mitigation plans, e.g., to offset development.
Biodiversity support potential is assessed based on a landscape’s capacity to support populations of multiple species. The process begins with identifying the different ecological zones that occur within the landscape. These eco-zones can be supplied by the user (e.g. from state gap analysis programs) or be derived via an “ecological zip-coding” tool included with this toolkit.
Once the ecological zones are created, a set of user defined planning units (e.g. parcels, catchments, or hexagons) are assessed based on their coverage of various ecological zones. Assessments include:
- The number of [rare or endemic] eco-zones included within a planning unit (richness).
- The proportional representation of eco-zones included within a planning unit (evenness).
- The overall representation of eco-zones across a suite of planning units (complementarity).
- The connectivity among selected planning units.
Each planning is assigned values based on these criteria. The user can weight the relative importance of each of these to determine an overall quality score for each planning unit, thus allowing for them to be sorted in importance for protection. The overall score can also be used to identify areas that can equitably offset development under mitigation agreements.