An inventory of continental U.S. terrestrial candidate ecological restoration areas based on landscape context

Landscape context is an important factor in restoration ecology, but the use of landscape context for site prioritization has not been as fully developed. We used morphological image processing to identify candidate ecological restoration areas based on their proximity to existing natural vegetation. We identified 1,102,720 candidate ecological restoration areas across the continental United States. Candidate ecological restoration areas were concentrated in the Great Plains and eastern United States. We populated the database of candidate ecological restoration areas with 17 attributes related to site content and context, including factors such as soil fertility and roads (site content), and number and area of potentially conjoined vegetated regions (site context) to facilitate its use for site prioritization. We demonstrate the utility of the database in the state of North Carolina, U.S.A. for a restoration objective related to restoration of water quality (mandated by the U.S. Clean Water Act), wetlands, and forest. The database will be made publicly available on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s EnviroAtlas website ( http://enviroatlas.epa.gov) for stakeholders interested in ecological restoration.