Biodiversity Education

Public education is central to the mission of Hudsonia. Our Biodiversity Resources Center provides Biodiversity Assessment Courses and produces Biodiversity Resource Materials to inform and educate people involved in land use decision-making in the Hudson Valley.

News & Events Courses & Workshops Materials

News & Events

The 2014 Biodiversity Education program begins with a 6-month Biodiversity Assessment Training Course starting in April. To see the types of programs we offer in a typical year, view our Education Brochure or continue reading below. To be informed of programs as they become available, join our Biodiversity Education email list.

Click here for the flyer for the 6-month Biodiversity Assessment course.

Buttonbush pool

Participants in the September 2012 Biodiversity Assessment Short Course admire a buttonbush pool

Trout Brook Columbine

Wild columbine along the Appalachian Trail in the Trout Brook watershed, Orange County

Biodiversity Education Program

The Biodiversity Education Program instructs community leaders in science-based principles and techniques for biodiversity conservation. Through hands-on laboratory and field exercises, participants learn the value of biodiversity in their communities, how to recognize habitats of ecological significance, and how to protect important resources through sound planning and site design . The Biodiversity Education Program has been funded by the Hudson River Estuary Program of NYSDEC, the Educational Foundation of America, the Dyson Foundation, and the Geoffrey C. Hughes Foundation.

Map of Biodiversity Education Participants

The map above shows all the municipalities that have participated in Hudsonia’s 10-month, 3-day, and 1-day Biodiversity Assessment courses. Click on the map to enlarge.

Six-Month and Ten-Month Biodiversity Assessment Training

2014 Biodiversity Assessment Training application and information.

A community group of 5-8 volunteers representing municipal agencies, watershed councils, land trusts, and similar organizations attends monthly or semi-monthly 4-hour laboratory and field training sessions, provided free-of-charge. The team is introduced to principles of biodiversity conservation and techniques for recognizing important biological resources. Participants use the Biodiversity Assessment Manual to learn to predict the occurrence of important habitats using map analysis and aerial photo interpretation, and to verify the presence of those habitats in the field, assessing a selected study area of several thousand acres in their home community. They prepare a habitat map and report describing the habitats and providing conservation recommendations.Participants learn about the kinds of habitats used by rare and declining species of plants and animals, the importance of spatial relationships among habitats in the landscape, and how best to protect habitat complexes that support local biological diversity. We are concerned with a broad array of common and rare habitats important to biodiversity such as upland meadows, upland forests, woodland pools, fens, kettles, and carbonate crests. We have worked with over 180 participants throughout the ten-county Hudson River Estuary in the 10-month program, and look forward to continuing this training with the 6-month program participants. For past groups and trainees, we provide technical assistance and follow-up grants.

2009 KingstonUlster BAT stereoscopes

Participants in a 2009 10-month program practice using stereoscopes and air photos to map habitat types remotely

2008 Hyde Park BAT plant ID

Gretchen Stevens teaches participants to recognize plant indicators of specific habitats in a 2008 10-month course

Three-Day Biodiversity Assessment Short Course
The Short Course is a condensed version of the 6- or 10-month Biodiversity Assessment Training. Participants are introduced to many of the skills and techniques taught during the longer course. Outdoor sessions teach field identification of habitats and indicators of habitat quality, and indoor lectures and exercises focus on map analysis, aerial photo interpretation, habitat prediction, and incorporating biodiversity conservation into town-wide planning and site-specific environmental reviews.

BASC 2012 Mapping Norrie Point

Participants in a 2012 Short Course use soils maps, topography maps, and aerial photos to make a habitat map of Norrie Point.

One-Day Biodiversity Workshops
We offer one-day workshops on specific topics related to biodiversity conservation.
In fall 2013 we held a one-day workshop on establishing municipal Habitat Assessment Guidelines, at the Ulster County–Cornell Cooperative Extension office in Kingston, NY. We also offered three Biodiversity Assessment and Conservation workshops this past fall: two day-long Saturday workshops (in Columbia and Putnam counties) and one 4-hour evening workshop (in Orange County). 
In 2014 we will offer additional one-day workshops. To receive an email when these workshops are announced, join our Biodiversity Education email list.

Our other topics vary from year to year, but past and prospective topics include:


  • Biodiversity Assessment for Land Use Decision-Makers
    An abridged session on the topics presented in the 6-month, 10-month, and 3-day Biodiversity Assessment workshops
  • Biodiversity Conservation and Site Plan Review
    How a planning board can help applicants incorporate biodiversity conservation into their site plan design
  • Incorporating Biodiversity Conservation into Local Ordinances and Procedures
    How to incorporate biodiversity protection into comprehensive plans, zoning ordinances, the SEQR process, or local reviews of land development projects
  • Plants as Indicators of Ecologically Significant Habitats
    A field workshop identifying plants that are indicators of certain ecologically significant habitats such as calcareous wet meadows, fens, and calcareous crest, ledge, and talus
  • Habitat Requirements for Plants and Animals of Conservation Concern
    The geological, structural, and biological characteristics of habitats for rare and vulnerable plants and wildlife, and measures for effective conservation

Walking fern & ebony spleenwort

Walking fern (left) and ebony spleenwort (right) are two plants that indicate calcium-rich environments in the Hudson Valley

Olana site design

Participants determine biological constraints in a site design plan in a 1-day Biodiversity Assessment workshop

Biodiversity Conservation Roundtable
All past participants in our Biodiversity Assessment programs are invited to the annual Biodiversity Conservation Roundtable, a half-day event that brings people together to discuss common problems and learn from each other about successful solutions. Attendees feel energized knowing that conservation progress is being made in many places throughout the Hudson Valley.In addition to discussions and updates from past participants, each Roundtable also focuses on a particular conservation issue. Past Roundtables have highlighted topics such as wetland ordinances, GIS information and training, and communicating the benefits of biodiversity to the public. The 8th annual Biodiversity Conservation Roundtable was held October 19, 2012 at the SUNY New Paltz campus, focusing on how to take the “next steps” in open space protection. Case studies, tips, and new ideas were presented by experts and past Biodiversity Education participants.

Biodiversity Resource Materials

In New York State, as in many other states, municipal agencies (e.g., town councils, town planning boards) have substantial authority for land use planning, for environmental reviews, and for issuing regulatory approvals for development projects. Most such decisions, however, are made without the benefit of good biological information or knowledge of potential impacts to biological resources. Consequently, biodiversity resources are disappearing at an accelerating rate in the rapidly developing Hudson Valley due to loss, fragmentation, and other degradation of habitats. The prospect of regional biological impoverishment was a primary impetus for creating the Biodiversity Assessment Manual and other resources for biologists and for the non-biologist members of town agencies, land trusts, and others whose land use decisions will shape the ecological landscape for the foreseeable future.

  • Biodiversity Assessment Manual for the Hudson River Estuary Corridor
    Written by Hudsonia scientists and published in 2001 by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Manual profiles 38 ecologically significant habitat types of New York’s Hudson Valley, discusses the plants and animals of conservation concern each habitat may support, and provides recommendations for protecting the biodiversity values of those habitats. The Manual is the centerpiece for our Biodiversity Assessment courses. Hudsonia has distributed the Manual free of charge to municipal conservation commissions, land trusts, and public libraries throughout the region. While hard copies of the Manual are no longer available, you may order a CD version by contacting Hudsonia.
  • Guidebook for Biodiversity Assessment
    This companion to the Biodiversity Assessment Manual guides readers through the process of assessing habitats using map resources for biodiversity conservation planning.
  • Habitat maps created by Biodiversity Assessment Training groups
    Several of the habitat maps created by groups who have completed the 10-month Biodiversity Assessment Training program can be viewed on Google Earth.
  • Persuasive Biodiversity Facts
    Why should we be concerned about biodiversity protection? This document, created in conjunction with the Hudson River Estuary Program, describes the links between biodiversity and Lyme disease, West Nile Virus, wildlife-generated income, and other facets of ecology and human welfare. We encourage the free download and distribution of this document.
  • Habitat Fact Sheets
    Created with the assistance of the Hudson River Estuary Program, these documents highlight the characteristics and sensitivities of ten common and uncommon ecologically important habitats in the Hudson Valley and provide recommendations for conservation. We encourage the free download and distribution of these fact sheets to landowners, developers, and land-use decision makers.
  • Plant Indicator Guides
    Each guide describes and illustrates plants that can be used as indicators of ecologically significant habitats in the Hudson Valley, including calcareous wet meadows, calcareous crests, fens, and swamps. We encourage the free download and distribution of these guides to anyone interested in learning how to recognize habitats that may be unfamiliar.
  • Conservation Planning
    This suite of resources is designed specifically for land-use planners wishing to implement local biodiversity conservation. It includes summaries of conservation recommendations for certain habitats, as well as a series of worksheets with suggestions of ways municipal planners can use comprehensive planning, pre-application meetings, zoning, SEQR, and other processes to incorporate biodiversity protection into their day-to-day work.
Calcareous ledge American Toad IMG_2844 Participants identify potential constraints on a site plan at a 2012 workshop.

Hudsonia, a tax-exempt not-for-profit corporation of the State of New York, classified 501(c)(3) by the Internal Revenue Service, relies on the generous, tax-deductible contributions from members of our community to sustain our research and education. We appreciate your support of our work.