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.

Courses & Workshops Materials

Our programs vary from year to year. To see the types of programs we offer in a typical year, continue reading below. To be informed of programs as they are scheduled, please SUBSCRIBE to our Biodiversity Education email list.

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



The Biodiversity Education Program instructs community leaders in science-based principles and techniques for conservation of biological and water resources. 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.


2022 Workshops on Identification and Conservation
of Biodiversity and Water Resources


Dutchess County Habitat Maps webinar

24 May, 5:00-6:30pm

Hudsonia Habitat Maps Go Virtual!

In 2001-2020, Hudsonia created townwide maps of significant habitats for twelve Dutchess County towns plus the City of Poughkeepsie, along with reports describing the habitats, their ecological significance, their importance to the human community, and recommendations for conservation. The habitat information is intended to inform townwide and site-specific land use planning, policy-making, land management, and siting, design, and environmental reviews of land development projects.

In 2021, Don Meltz and his GIS students at Marist College published the habitat maps to an online platform that enables easy, interactive access for public use. Maps are available for the towns of Amenia, Beekman, Clinton, Dover, East Fishkill, Hyde Park, North East, Pine Plains, Poughkeepsie (town & city), Rhinebeck, Stanford, and Washington.

On Tuesday, May 24, 5:00-6:30pm, we will hold a webinar to reintroduce the habitat maps and reports to municipal officials; demonstrate how to access the maps through the new web map portal, and discuss some of the ways the information can be used for municipal purposes.

The webinar speakers will be Gretchen Stevens, Director of Hudsonia’s Biodiversity Resources Center, and Don Meltz, Adjunct Professor, Marist College. The event is sponsored by the Dutchess County Planning Federation, and is conducted in partnership with Cornell University and the Hudson River Estuary Program of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and funded by the NYS Environmental Protection Fund.

This webinar has passed but click here to view recording!

Click here to view presentation slides

Visit the Dutchess County Planning Federation website ( for more information.


Habitat Assessment Guidelines webinar

9 June, 1:00-2:30pm

Habitat assessment is a process used to evaluate potential impacts of proposed activities or development for natural areas, plants, wildlife, and water resources on a given site.

In this webinar, Gretchen Stevens will introduce model habitat assessment guidelines that municipal planning boards and other agencies may use in reviewing development projects. The guidelines are designed to help the applicant and reviewing agencies obtain specific information about site features early in the planning process so that potential impacts to sensitive habitats can be avoided or minimized. Employing these guidelines can help avoid costly reworking of the project design, streamline the environmental review, and lead to better outcomes for the project sponsors and communities.

The webinar will also present a case study from the Town of Warwick in Orange County, New York. In 2010, Warwick adopted a Biodiversity Conservation Overlay District that integrates habitat assessment into the review process for proposed subdivisions in the overlay zone. Planner Ted Fink will discuss how this approach is guiding new development, and ecological consultant David Griggs will provide an overview of Warwick’s habitat assessment procedure.

The webinar is conducted in partnership with Cornell University and the Hudson River Estuary Program of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and funded by the NYS Environmental Protection Fund.

This webinar has passed but click here to view recording!


A Field Workshop on Habitat Assessment

Hudsonia and the Hudson River Estuary Program are pleased to offer this field workshop as a follow-up to the Habitat Assessment Guidelines webinar held on 9 June 2022. Habitat assessment is used to evaluate the potential impacts of proposed activities (or development) on habitats, plants, wildlife, and water resources. In this workshop we will visit the site of a (mock) proposed subdivision project, use the Guidelines to conduct the field portion of a habitat assessment, review the subdivision proposal in light of our findings, and consider revisions to the proposal if needed. The workshop is especially designed for members of municipal agencies involved in environmental reviews, but will also be useful to others concerned with identifying sensitive areas and minimizing the environmental impacts of land uses.

The program will be led by Hudsonia Ltd. in collaboration with the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation and in partnership with the Hudson River Estuary Program of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and funded by the NYS Environmental Protection Fund. 

When: Friday, 22 July 2022, 9:30-11:30am  (rain date:  29 July 2022, 9:30-11:30am)    

Where: Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, Town of Lewisboro, Westchester County, NY

The workshop is free-of-charge**, but space is limited and registration is required. Some spots may be reserved for those on municipal boards and those who work for land trusts. Contact Lea Stickle at (845-758-7053) to register. Details of the event will be provided upon registration. Attending the June webinar or viewing the webinar recording ( is a prerequisite.

**Please note: While the workshop is free, there is a small parking fee to access the Reservation (fee will be reduced from the normal parking fee for those attending this workshop).




These programs are free-of-charge and open to all, but registration is required. The programs are especially designed for municipal officials, conservation NGOs, and others who are regularly engaged in policy-making, environmental reviews, and issues related to land development and conservation. Certificates for municipal training credit will be available to attendees.

The Biodiversity Education program is conducted in partnership with Cornell University and the NYSDEC Hudson River Estuary Program, and funded by the NYS Environmental Protection Fund.


To view recordings of previous year webinars, follow links below

View other past webinars and other resources posted by the NYSDEC Hudson River Estuary Program here: (link will leave Hudsonia website)

Hudsonia webinars and workshop topics vary from year to year, but past and prospective topics include:

  • Short Course on Habitat and Water Resource Assessment for Land Use Planning
    This is a two- or three- day course in which participants are introduced to ideas and techniques for recognizing and protecting biodiversity and water resources. Outdoor sessions teach field identification of habitats and indicators of habitat quality, and indoor lectures and exercises focus on conservation principles, map analysis, aerial photo interpretation, and incorporating biodiversity conservation into town-wide planning and site-specific environmental reviews. Check back here for details and registration information on future Short Course workshops.

We are often able to offer one-day workshops on specific topics related to biodiversity conservation.

  • Habitat and Water Resources Assessment for Land Use Decision-Makers
    A one-day session on the topics covered in the Short Course on Habitat and Water Resources Assessment
  • Habitat Assessment Guidelines
    Introducing guidelines that will help planning boards and land use applicants gather information about sensitive resources on proposed development sites, and design projects in ways that minimize impacts on those resources
  • Biodiversity Conservation and Site Plan Review
    How a planning board can help applicants incorporate biodiversity conservation into their site plan design
  • Field Skills for Reviewing Land Use Proposals: Basic skills for interpreting the landscape, recognizing sensitive areas, and assessing biological impacts of land development proposals
  • 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 & maidenhair spleenwort

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

Olana site design

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

The Biodiversity Education programs outlined above are conducted in partnership with the Hudson River Estuary Program, with funding from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund.

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 digital 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. This document is provided to all participants in the 6-month or Short Course programs. You may order a digital or hard copy of the Guidebook by contacting Hudsonia.
  • Habitat maps created by Biodiversity Assessment Training groups
    Several of the habitat maps created by groups who have completed the 6-month or 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 documents with suggestions for how 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.