GAP has developed protected areas information since the late 1980s. In 2007-08 GAP began supporting the PAD-US Partnership as a new collaborative framework for this data. The partnership includes the US Geological Survery, Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, the Conservation Biology Institute, The Nature Conservancy and the Land Trust Alliance, with coordination provided by GreenInfo Network. Each of these organizations has contributed to the data that are currently available on protected areas. Support for this project has come from USGS GAP and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The work of the Partnership also helps achieve Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's stated goal "to protect and restore our treasured landscapes."
The protected areas included in the PAD-US include lands that are dedicated to the preservation of biological diversity and to other natural, recreational and cultural uses; and managed for these purposes through legal or other effective means. These lands are essential for conserving species and habitat. The lands in PAD-US also include other types of publicly owned open space areas, whether used for recreational, managed resource development, water quality protection or other uses.
The protection status of lands in the database is characterized by GAP codes and by IUCN roman numerals.
GAP has worked with the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) to link PAD-US to the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA). This linkage will facilitate collaboration between conservation organizations by establishing a consistent understanding of protected lands status whether the focus is global or local.
In addition, the PAD-US database will be submitted annually to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC.org) for integration into the North American Environmental Atlas to support continental-scale analyses.