Big River Connectivity Maps

Produced by Nitin Gadia

The Rewilding Map

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Just as we use maps for planning and navigation, the rewilding map is an indispensable tool for establishing wildlife cores and corridors. It reveals potentials otherwise unseen, with the areas that are most suitable for expansion and creation of core and corridor habitats. More easily than ever, people can know where to look and where they would then walk and assess the land in person.

A core is a biodiversity “hotspot” in which the animal and plant diversity already exists, and natural cycles and functions maintain that diversity to some degree. Cores provide sizeable territories for the largest animals, so that they can reproduce successfully. They also buffer the interiors from human land uses outside the cores. Cores allow common species to remain common and rare species to survive and thrive. Ideally, a core is at least 10,000 acres in size because of the requirements for larger species.

A corridor is a path between cores that allows animals and plants to move. Movement is important to maintaining populations in size and genetics. Corridors have different functions, such as allowing fish and mussels to repopulate upstream areas, giving passage to migrating birds, and allowing endangered and threatened species to locate new areas. At a minimum, a corridor should be 1,000 feet wide to allow free passage of animals, but wider corridors are better, especially if they include different kinds of habitats.

Shown is the whole Mississippi Watershed, focused on Iowa. Potential cores and corridors are being drawn and added to the map, and soon the map will be directly editable, making it a powerful tool for collaboration. Ultimately, a complete vision will develop across the Mississippi watershed and beyond.

The entire project began with maps of cores and corridors along the Iowa River. I worked with map features such as cropped land inside the five-year floodplain along Iowa, classes of sloped land as a way to define potential corridors versus human land uses, and other map elements. This start evolved into a map of the Chariton River that linked the Ozark Plateau to the landforms of southern and eastern Iowa. The final result is at the link above, showing the 32 states in the Mississippi-Missouri basin, a land area of over 1.5 million square miles.

How to use this map:

*Explore the map by zooming and panning and clicking layers on and off.
*Drag the vertical bar in the center left and right to swipe and compare the satellite map with the rewilding map.
*Click the layers on the right on and off to see the elements of the landscape.
*Click the labels on and off in the bottom-right.

This map and data are entirely open source (CC0).

Feel free to contact me with your response and thoughts.
Creator: Nitin Gadia