In planning for and implementing native plants and natural habitat on your property, in your community, it can be helpful and informative to consider the surrounding area, and all of the Chicago Region ecosystem.  CLC is all about creating corridors on private property that help to connect natural area cores.  A private property can participate in a row or stepping-stone corridor that helps with the movement of fauna between core areas.  This promotes biodiversity and ecosystem robustness throughout the Chicago Region.

A great way to start exploring native habitat cores, corridors and the Chicago Region ecosystem is looking at the Chicago Wilderness (CW) Green Infrastructure Vision (GIV).   The final report is here (PDF file).   This vision provides an assessment of the existing ecosystem and green infrastructure and provides guidance for improving and expanding natural areas and green infrastructure in the region.

What is green infrastructure?  “Green infrastructure is an interconnected system of natural areas and open spaces including woodlands, wetlands, trails and parks, which are protected and managed for the ecological values and functions they provide to people and wildlife.  Green infrastructure supports native species; sustains air and water resources; and contributes to the health and quality of life for people and communities.” (from Kane County 2040 Green Infrastructure Plan – PDF file)

Some counties and communities have created a Green Infrastructure plan specific to their area.   Chicago Wilderness has helped with this effort through their SWAT Green Infrastructure Mapping Projects.  Check the link to see if there is a plan for your county and community.

The Green Infrastructure Vision includes lots of geodata and mapping.  The Field Museum has an online interactive map here.  This mapping includes many layers, including, for example, estimated Ecosystem Services Aggregate Value (in dollars).

For those interested in diving deeper into GIV reports and GIV data, see the GIV content and data stored at CMAP.   The geodata is publicly available for download.

PSCC I-View.  Another excellent resource for exploring  your area and the entire Chicago Region ecosystem I-View.  This is a database and online interactive map of protected lands, categorized in four areas:

  1. Public Sector (does not include municipalities)
  2. Private Sector
  3. Municipalities
  4. Illinois Nature Preserves

The I-View data can be downloaded.