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Energy and Environment Cabinet

Native prairie ~ photo by Thomas G. Barnes

Natural Heritage Program

KSNPC's staff botanists, zoologists, ecologists, land managers and data managers work with others to protect our natural heritage and educate Kentuckians about its importance. Information on rare and sensitive plants, animals, ecological communities and other natural features of Kentucky is maintained as part of a computer data management system known as the Kentucky Natural Heritage Program (KYNHP). The KYNHP works in partnership with NatureServe an international natural heritage network. This network includes Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers across Canada, the United States and Latin America, all building on the same data collection methodology. These programs and data centers collectively represent the largest ongoing effort to collect standardized data on endangered plants, animals and ecosystems. Kentucky's database is updated continuously and is used to set state, national and global priorities for the preservation of natural diversity. Commission biologists continually gather this information during their field work and from contacts with other Kentucky biologists and other sources. As a result, the Kentucky Natural Heritage Program is the most complete and current biological database of its kind available.

Biological and Ecological Inventories:
Biological and ecological field studies are conducted to gather information about the distribution, abundance and life history of flora, fauna and natural communities in Kentucky. Specialists in aquatic fauna, terrestrial vertebrates, invertebrates, plants (including lichens) and natural communities conduct studies to determine which species and natural communities in Kentucky are the most vulnerable to decline and eventual extinction. Stream seining, mist-netting and light trapping are a few of the sampling techniques used to gather biological information. The results of the inventories conducted by commission scientists as well as others are the primary source for information for the Kentucky Natural Heritage Database. This information is also the basis for most of KSNPC activities including development of the state listing of rare species, identification of sites of biological significance (and eventually nature preserves) and public and technical educational materials.