The South Carolina Natural Heritage Data Program now documents habitats and protected species to support efforts to safeguard the state’s uniqueness. Biologists at the state moved to a central geographic information system (GIS) to streamline the sharing of endangered species data, including mapping habitat loss and picking areas the state could purchase for creating permanently protected heritage preserves. The system serves as the authoritative source of biodiversity data for the state and is used by partner agencies including the Department of Health & Environmental Control (DHEC).
Any development that receives federal government financing or permitting must review the presence of threatened or endangered species within the proposed project footprint. In the past, Heritage Trust staff had to manually check requests against the database of protected species, and struggled to get through approximately 200 requests per year. DHEC now receives direct access to this same dynamic data, ensuring consistency across the board, building trust with stakeholders, and working towards a more efficient and effective environmental review process.