The Natural Heritage Program Conservation unit works with landowners, local, state and federal agencies, non-profit organizations, and corporations to conserve the significant natural areas of the state, through short- and long-term agreements, conservation planning and land management assistance.
Activities that support this effort include:
- Conservation Incentives
- The Conservation Incentives Program assists landowners and conservation organizations with N.C. Conservation Tax Credits and information about other state and federal conservation incentive programs.
- Conservation Planning Tool
- The North Carolina Conservation Planning Tool provides a valuable means for synthesizing and sharing the priorities of the state’s conservation agencies and organizations with planners in government and the private sector to inform decisions and guide conservation efforts statewide.
- Dedicated Nature Preserves
- Publicly- and privately-owned Significant Natural Heritage Areas can be dedicated as State Nature Preserves to establish a lasting conservation commitment.
- Ecosystem Climate Assessment
- The Natural Heritage Program, with input from other conservation agencies, has evaluated the likely effects of climate change on North Carolina's ecosystems and rare species.
- Element Occurrences
- The Natural Heritage Program collects information on occurrences of rare plants and animals, exemplary or unique natural communities, and important animal assemblages (e.g., heronries and colonial waterbird nesting sites). Collectively, these plants, animals, natural communities and animal assemblages are referred to as "elements of natural diversity" or simply as "elements." Specific occurrences of these elements are referred to as "element occurrences."
- Freshwater Ecosystems
- The Natural Heritage Program's aquatic ecologists combine skill in the inventory of freshwater natural areas with experience in conservation actions to address issues related to the conservation of freshwater ecosystems in North Carolina.
- Managed Areas
- The Natural Heritage Program maintains a database and GIS maps of all the nature preserves within North Carolina. These are known as "Managed Areas" or "Protected Areas."
- Registered Heritage Areas
- Voluntary agreements protect outstanding examples of the natural diversity and establish reserves for populations of endangered, threatened, rare or otherwise important species of plants and animals.
- Significant Natural Heritage Areas
- The North Carolina Natural Heritage Program has identified more than 2,500 Significant Natural Heritage Areas statewide. A Significant Natural Heritage Area is an area of land or water identified by the NHP as being important for conservation of the state's biodiversity.
- Stewardship Program
- The Stewardship Program provides monitoring and management of conservation easements and lands held by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources for stream and wetland mitigation.
- Support for Land Conservation
- The Natural Heritage Program works with many partners, including state and federal conservation agencies, national conservation groups, and the land trust community, to protect these ecologically significant areas.