Introducing the Planning Tool: Let us analyze your map so you can set goals

Photo © mt 23

With the introduction of a brand new tool in Habitat Network, we are giving participants the chance to take their habitat to the next level. Once you’ve mapped a space, and filled out all the characteristics for the site, polygons, and objects you’ve added to the map you can open the planning tool and behind the scenes, the Habitat Network will analyze your map to give you credit for taking certain actions. It is a lot of fun to run your map through this “check;” and once you’ve done it, you can see the goals you’ve already made progress towards and choose to set those goals for your site. To get you ready, this article shares the details about how this tool works.


Photo © Habitat Network

If you have a complete map you are ready to put the planning tool to use. There are several access points for the planning tool. The image above shows you what the button looks like, and where to find it. On the left, when you open the Site Explorer, whose button is next to the “Tool Shed,” and choose the “My Sites” option all the sites you’ve created will be listed on the left hand side bar. For each one, you can open the planning tool. On the right side of the image, you can see that the button to access the planning tool is at the top of the view. Each habitat map you own will allow you to create an individualized plan.


Photo © Habitat Map

When you open the planning tool, that is when the magic happens. Behind the scenes, we analyze your map looking for evidence that certain actions are taken at that site or that certain habitat assets are there. But, don’t worry, we won’t keep our process a secret. You can read about how we award actions in this very detailed article.


Photo © Habitat Map

When the analysis is done (it could take several seconds!) you will see this screen. These are the current goals we have for you to choose from. There are a diversity of goals that you can choose to focus on. From SUPPORTING BIRDS to EMPOWERING COMMUNITY . Each goal has a set of actions associated with it; and, these actions are summarized as dots on this page.


Photo © Habitat Network

The very first time you open the planning tool the dots on each goals card will be in one of two states: White with a checkmark, or an open circle. The checkmarked ones represent actions you’ve already completed based on the analysis of your map that was completed when you opened the tool. The open circles represent actions you haven’t yet made a commitment to or completed based on what you’ve mapped. This is a quick and easy way to see how far along you are towards carrying out each goal.


Photo © Habitat Network

You can explore each goal and select it as your own by clicking on the goal card. When you do the card will flip over to reveal the goal details. You can read a description of the goal, use the link to visit the Habitat Network article on the goal, see the actions affiliated with the goal (including which ones you’ve already completed, and which ones are still left to work on), and chose to work on this goal by clicking the “I Want to Do This” button.

Not Getting Credit for All Your Actions?

Do you have a rain garden, but aren’t getting credit for it in the planning tool? Are you someone who already skips the insecticides, but that isn’t showing up when you look at the goals details? There is probably a logical reason. It is possible you haven’t filled out that data for your map yet. A lot of the actions are based on characteristics. If you haven’t set the characteristics for your map, and for each object there is a good chance you aren’t getting credit for everything you are doing.

Setting your characteristics tutorial

If you have set all your characteristics, it might be time to dig into our detailed list of actions, which reveals exactly what data trigger an action to be recognized as complete.

Action Details Cheatsheet


Photo © Habitat Network

When you choose a goal the view changes, revealing the actions panel, which slides in from left. In the actions panel, you can sort the actions that aren’t yet complete by selecting either “I Would Like to Do This” or “I Am Unable To Do This.” Once you’ve made a selection that action appears in that section of the actions panel. There is also a “read more” link for each action that will take you directly to an article that will get you started on completing that action at your site or help you decide if that action is one you can undertake.


Photo © Habitat Network

Some actions you just won’t be able to complete at your site. For instance, the person sorting these actions in the image to the left lives in a rental property; so, for the actions that won’t work with her limited landscaping options she clicked “I Am Unable To Do This” removing the actions from the “Other Available Actions” list and onto the ” Unable To Complete” list. If circumstances change in the future, say you get permission from your landlord to undertake some new landscaping you can return to this list and select “I Would Like to Do This.”


Photo © Habitat Network

As you sort actions you’ll notice the indicator dots for that goal changing. Like before checked dots still mean the action is completed, and open dots mean you haven’t sorted the actions yet. Now, however, you’ll notice that some dots are filled in–these are those you indicated “I Would Like to Do This” for; whereas, those you sent to the ” Unable To Complete” list now appear as dim crossed-out circles.


Photo © Habitat Network

Some actions count towards multiple goals. In the image above you can see “No use of insecticides” appears on the actions lists for both birds and pollinators. These actions might be particularly critical in shaping the ecology of a site. It can be exciting to learn that changing one habit or adding one new feature to your site can work to support multiple goals. You may even find your interests expanding as you see the diversity of goals you are already successfully working towards on your site.


Photo © Habitat Network

Once you’ve selected some goals and sorted some actions it will be time to get down to work at your site or in your community working towards completing some new actions. Remember, once you complete the action you’ll need to return to your map and edit it to indicate that that new action has been complete. For some actions, this might mean changing a characteristic. This is the case for No use of insecticides which is a characteristic change for the overall site. For others, it might mean making a change to your map to reflect the new reality at your site. Above, the site owner is adding a log to their site. When they reopen the planning tool, they will see that the goals with “Log available” action will now have it checked off.

All the Goals