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Species of Greatest Conservation Need

Distribution and abundance of wildlife species, including low and declining populations, are indicative of the diversity and health of the Commonwealth’s natural resources. The Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) list was updated for the 2015 Action Plan. Draft rankings were created based upon the 2005 Action Plan as well as any new information garnered through research and literature review to determine if more recent actions or plans have been developed for each of the SGCN. Draft materials were then provided to biologists and academic researchers knowledgeable of Virginia’s species.

Tiers of Relative Conservation Need

Within the SGCN list, species are classified into four tiers that were developed to identify the relative importance of conservation need for each species.

Tier Degree of Conservation Need Description
1 Critical Conservation Need Faces an extremely high risk of extinction or extirpation. Populations of these species are at critically low levels, facing immediate threat(s), or occur within an extremely limited range. Intense and immediate management action is needed.
2 Very High Conservation Need Has a high risk of extinction or extirpation. Populations of these species are at very low levels, facing real threat(s), or occur within a very limited distribution. Immediate management is needed for stabilization and recovery.
3 High Conservation Need Extinction or extirpation is possible. Populations of these species are in decline or have declined to low levels or are in a restricted range. Management action is needed to stabilize or increase populations.
4 Moderate Conservation Need The species may be rare in parts of its range, particularly on the periphery. Populations of these species have demonstrated a significant declining trend or one is suspected which, if continued, is likely to qualify this species for a higher tier in the foreseeable future. Long-term planning is necessary to stabilize or increase populations.

Conservation Opportunity Ranking

They are also given a Conservation Opportunity Ranking. These rankings are defined as follows:

  • A — Managers have identified “on the ground” species or habitat management strategies expected to benefit the species; at least some of which can be implemented with existing resources and are expected to have a reasonable chance of improving the species’ conservation status.
  • B — Managers have only identified research needs for the species or managers have only identified “on the ground” conservation actions that cannot be implemented due to lack of personnel, funding, or other circumstance.
  • C — Managers have failed to identify “on the ground” actions or research needs that could benefit this species or its habitat or all identified conservation opportunities for a species have been exhausted.

This process enhances the original Tier system, and the increased number of categories allows the conservation community to better prioritize based upon actions that can be taken to address species’ needs.

Current tiered list of Species of Greatest Conservation Need: