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.


2021 Workshops on Identification and Conservation
of Biodiversity and Water Resources


Recognizing Habitats 11 September 2021; 9:00am – 12:00pm; Woodstock, NY

An in-person, outdoor workshop for municipal officials and land trust staff of the Hudson River Estuary to increase their ability to recognize and evaluate major habitat types. We will discuss ecological values, habitat quality, and issues related to land development and conservation. Certificates for 3 hours of municipal training credit will be available to attendees.

This program is free but registration is required as space is limited. Please email Lea at lstickle[at] to register

Headwater Streams: Identifying and Protecting an Essential Resource 3rd, 10th, & 17th November 2021; 3:00pm – 4:00pm each day; Webinar Series

Small headwater streams are often unnamed and unmapped, and unprotected by state or federal regulations. Yet these streams support distinctive biological communities, play ecological roles important to the surrounding landscape, and are essential sources of water, organic materials, and organisms for the larger downstream systems. We will discuss the ecological values of small streams; how to identify them remotely and in the field; threats to stream habitats and water quality; the status of state and federal regulatory programs for small streams; and how to extend local protections to these important resources. Certificates for 4.5 hours of municipal training credit will be available to attendees. Check back here for registration information.


Recordings of Past 2021 Webinars

Critical Environmental Area Training

The Hudson River Estuary Program and Hudsonia Ltd. are pleased to announce a training and technical assistance opportunity for three communities in the estuary watershed that wish to designate a Critical Environmental Area (CEA). Hudsonia and Estuary Program staff will guide a working group of community representatives through the steps necessary to draft a CEA proposal. The program is free and will be held remotely through monthly meetings June-November 2021.

We are pleased to announce that the following communities have been selected for this training:

Town of Montgomery
Town of New Lebanon
Town of Woodstock

To learn more about Critical Environmental Areas, see this CEA fact sheet, watch a 5-minute video about CEA designation in an Ulster County town, or view our recent webinar about CEAs

New York communities may designate geographic areas with exceptional or unique environmental characteristics as Critical Environmental Areas (CEAs) under State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) regulations. Once a CEA is formally established, lead agencies in environmental reviews must consider potential impacts of proposed development on the special qualities of the CEA, bringing attention to important local features that might otherwise be overlooked. Hudson Valley communities have designated CEAs to recognize important aquifers and drinking water reservoirs, stream corridors and watersheds, significant habitats, wetland complexes, ridgelines, parks and preserves, and scenic areas. This webinar will provide an overview of what CEAs are, what kinds of places might be considered for CEA designation, how they are used in land-use planning and decision-making, and how to establish them. Guest speakers from the towns of Bedford and Hyde Park will share their experiences with CEA establishment and application in project reviews. 

Wetlands Webinar Series

In recognition and celebration of American Wetlands Month in May, the Hudson River Estuary Program and Hudsonia Ltd. are pleased to offer a 3-part webinar series dedicated to Wetland Values, Identification, and Protection.

  • Wetlands: Values and Threats  Wednesday, May 5, 3:00-4:30pm

This webinar has passed but click here to view the webinar recording [leaves Hudsonia website]

In the first session of the Wetlands webinar series we will discuss the array of wetland types in the Hudson Valley, the ecological, water resource, and carbon storage values of wetlands; threats to wetlands, including threats from climate change;  and how to protect wetlands through establishment of buffer zones, stormwater management, and maintaining surrounding natural areas.

Gretchen Stevens, Hudsonia Ltd
Laura Heady, DEC Hudson River Estuary Program and Cornell University
Nate Nardi-Cyrus, DEC Hudson River Estuary Program and Cornell University

  • Wetlands: Mapping, Identification, and Field Verification  Wednesday, May 12, 3:00-4:30pm

This webinar has passed but click here to view the webinar recording [leaves Hudsonia website]

In the second session of the Wetlands webinar series we will discuss existing state and federal wetland maps and how to use online resources to identify additional wetland locations through the analysis of topographic maps, soils, and aerial photos. We will walk through examples of map analysis to predict the occurrence of wetlands and discuss tips for conducting a field visit to verify those predictions through on-the-ground observations of plants, soils, and other indicators.

Ingrid Haeckel, DEC Hudson River Estuary Program and Cornell University
Gretchen Stevens, Hudsonia Ltd

  • Wetlands: Regulatory Status and Local Protection Strategies  Wednesday, May 19, 3:00-4:30pm

This webinar has passed but click here to view the webinar recording [leaves Hudsonia website]

In the third session of the Wetlands webinar series we will discuss the state and federal regulatory protections for wetlands, including recent changes, and the potential for local regulations, how to address wetlands in environmental reviews of land development projects, and approaches for crafting and adopting local laws and zoning for wetland protection.

Roy Jacobson, NYSDEC
Gretchen Stevens, Hudsonia Ltd
Emily Svenson, Gordon and Svenson LLP

For more information, visit


Recordings of 2020 webinars

  • Wetlands: Values, Threats, and Protection Webinar, Mon-Wed, 21-23 September 2020

click here to view webinar recording (leaves Hudsonia website)

  • Best Practices for Environmental Reviews Webinar, Wednesday, June 17, 2020

 click here to view webinar recording or click here to view webinar presentation slides (leaves Hudsonia website)

  • Headwater Streams: Identifying and Protecting an Essential Resource Webinar, Mon-Thu, 3-6 August 2020

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Virtual Field Trip

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.