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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Natural Heritage Program - Registered Heritage Areas

Natural Heritage Program

Registered Heritage Areas

Registered Heritage Areas are administered by the Natural Heritage Program

  • Relies solely on voluntary agreements.
  • Benefits include some assistance with developing management prescriptions, public recognition (if desired), and limited protection from the placement of new sewer lines.

Objectives of the Registry of Natural Heritage Areas

Lake Waccamaw by Misty Buchanan

  • Protect outstanding examples of the natural diversity occurring in the state
  • Establish reserves for populations of endangered, threatened, rare or otherwise important species of plants and animals
  • Preserve unique and unusual natural features
  • Protect natural areas against uses which would destroy their natural conditions
  • Encourage educational activities and scientific research 

What criteria qualify an area for Registry? 

  • Exemplary natural communities characteristic of the ecosystems of North Carolina
  • Habitat for plant or animal species that are in danger or threatened by extinction or are suffering declining populations
  • Unique natural features such as old-growth forests or unusual vegetation types
  • Other significant ecological features

Voluntary Agreements

Ocracoke Island by Dale Suiter For each registered area, an agreement is written that describes the ways the landowner and the Natural Heritage Program will work together to protect the biological diversity of the natural area. Guiding standards for managing and using a registered area are to protect the natural qualities and maintain the area in as nearly a natural condition as possible.  The agreement can be canceled at any time, although the Natural Heritage Program appreciates 30 days written notice.

For more information about registry agreements and the registry process, contact Scott Pohlman.

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