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Database Program

Natural Heritage Database Program

Program Mission: To facilitate the conservation of Illinois' biodiversity through the development, maintenance, and dissemination of comprehensive data on rare species, natural areas, and other natural resource features.

The Illinois Natural Heritage Database Program maintains a centralized, comprehensive database of significant natural biodiversity features in Illinois to inform conservation and land use decisions. Data on the state's rarest species and features is continually updated and includes:

  • 6,200+ occurrences of endangered and threatened plant and animals, including state- and federally-listed species
  • 1,100+ high-quality natural communities
  • 1,400+ Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI) sites
  • 700+ lands enrolled in Illinois Nature Preserves Commission (INPC) land protection programs
  • Additional features such as rookeries, bald eagle nests, etc.

Beginning in 1986, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' Division of Natural Heritage, in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy, established the Illinois Natural Heritage Database to be a central location of information on significant natural features within the state.

Our Program uses Biotics (Biodiversity Tracking and Conservation System) software, which combines a powerful Oracle database with Geographic Information System (GIS) technology for tracking both tabular and spatial information.

We are a contributing member of the NatureServe Network, an international group of natural resource professionals and member program databases spearheaded by NatureServe to connect science with conservation. All 86 member-programs, including Heritage programs from all 50 U.S. states and portions of Canada and Latin America, track data using a standardized information management methodology. This allows programs to work locally, but pool data for conservation planning across geopolitical boundaries in the network. All data feed directly into the global dataset served on NatureServe Explorer.

Tara Kieninger, Program Manager,