Data & Maps
The Conservation Assessment and Prioritization System (CAPS) was developed in the early 2000s, and initially applied in Massachusetts. A comprehensive, statewide assessment was completed in 2011, with an updated assessment in 2015. Soon after, the CAPS approach was applied to the 13-state, North Atlantic region of the U.S. as part of the Designing Sustaining Landscapes (DSL) project, funded by the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (NALCC). The DSL project combined CAPS with Critical Linkages assessments, risk of development and environmental change models, species-based models, and elements of The Nature Conservancy’s Resilient Landscape analyses, to provide data and analysis for use in conservation decision-making.
Massachusetts CAPS was significantly updated in 2020, with several new data sources, including an updated landcover, significantly better representation of development, and improved traffic models.
DSL data (including CAPS data) are now available for all states in the North Atlantic region (CT, DE, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VA, VT & WV). There are two versions of CAPS available for MA, the DSL version and a Mass version that utilizes state-specific data not available in other states. The Mass version of CAPS is probably better for most of Massachusetts, because it used data not available in other states, as well as some data (e.g. wetlands and land cover mapping) that were better than what were available for the region. The regional (DSL) CAPS data are better if you are interested in IEI across state lines, or even within Massachusetts for areas that are close to borders with other states. DSL also includes data and products that were not part of the Mass CAPS assessment, including critical linkages analyses of dams and road-stream crossings, risk of development, climate change vulnerability, and landscape conservation design products.
Mass CAPS (updated 2021)
DSL Data and Products (including CAPS, updated 2020)