The PNDI Environmental Review Tool has been restructured and enhanced so much it has a completely new name. The new PA Conservation Explorer is now the home to PNDI Environmental Review and Conservation Planning with many new and exciting features! Please read below for more information on the changes.
The old PNDI tool versus the new PA Conservation Explorer
The Explorer includes both conservation planning and PNDI environmental review. The Explorer includes visible conservation information to support project planning as well as environmental review where users can screen their project for potential impacts to threatened or endangered species and obtain PNDI Receipts. These two tools in one provide greater efficiency and certainty for both industry and conservation.
New and Improved Features:
- Improved mapping with 11 different base maps
- Access to PA information for planning and environmental review:
- Protected lands: state and federal lands as well as local parks
- Visible rare, threatened and endangered species habitats
- High-value surface water resources
- Important bird areas
- PA Natural Heritage areas and reports
- Import project shapefiles to perform screenings
- View submitted projects and their status
- Upload project documents for review
Convenience Charge for PNDI Receipts.
Although most parts of the new tool are free of charge, a $40 convenience charge per PNDI project will be applied to recover costs of maintaining the Explorer and management of the data and information. The convenience charge policy was published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin September 19, 2015.
PNDI species buffers in the old PNDI Tool versus species habitat polygons in the new Explorer
The Explorer’s PNDI Environmental Review portion has been upgraded to now use and visually show species habitat polygons as opposed to the old PNDI Tool which has generic buffers around found species, and were not visible. The species habitat polygons are based on known occurrences of species data in PNDI. For each species, PNHP and agency scientists map species populations and natural communities by delineating a spatial representation of their habitat.
Users may not see a significant change to results from an old PNDI Receipt to a new PNDI Receipt obtained through the Explorer. DCNR compared results from the old PNDI Tool to PNDI Receipt results from the new Explorer and there is a 15-20% decrease in Potential Impacts. Several new Questions have been incorporated into Explorer to further refine proposed project activities and screen out No Impact projects. The new Explorer has been updated with additional Avoidance and Conservation Measures which facilitate automatic species clearances. These changes will improve and increase efficiencies in PNDI project reviews.
In some cases, an older receipt may indicate a potential conflict, but a newer one with the same project footprint may not (or vice versa). This is because the species habitat polygons change as new information is received regarding a species (i.e. a new listing or delisting; new occurrence of a species or removal of its occurrence). So while there is an overall decrease in potential conflicts across the state, specific sites may see a change in potential impact vs no impact due to the change in species polygons (changing from a generic circle to a habitat-based polygon).