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Natural & Working Lands

North Carolina Natural & Working Lands Stakeholder Group

The natural systems upon which we depend on are essential to life and the local economy.  North Carolina’s natural and working lands offer opportunities to build ecosystem resiliency and sequester carbon while continuing to deliver economic growth in the land sector.  To protect the communities, economies, and ecosystems that depend on them, the North Carolina Natural and Working Lands (NWL) Stakeholder Group will build on a wide range of actions and measures that conserve, manage and restore land and coastal areas that provide vital health, social, economic and environmental benefits.  The type of land use and activities to be explored include forests, wetlands, farms, rangelands, grasslands and urban greenspace.

The NWL Stakeholder Group will identify opportunities for natural and working lands, develop pathways for public and private lands to implement these opportunities, and identify policy, financial mechanisms and incentives needed to execute the various pathways.  The resulting actionable plan will aim to maximize climate benefits while providing key co-benefits such as land conservation, ecosystem health, and new economic opportunities for landowners, agribusiness, recreation and tourism.  Listed below are a few guiding principles for this effort: 

  • Restore coastal wetlands and sub-tidal habitats that protect shorelines against sea level rise;
  • Restore ecosystems and open space for watershed protection and recreation;
  • Protect the viability of vital farmland, ranchland and productive forestland;
  • Reduce losses from wildfire and land-use change;
  • Protect existing natural and working lands from conversion;
  • Support healthy soils on farms and ranches;
  • Keep farmland in production
  • Grow the urban forest and other green space to improve health and livability;
  • Support watershed health from source to tap;
  • Foster resilient rural economies;
  • Restore critical habitat and bolster ecosystem adaptation to climate change; and
  • Increase recreational opportunities across our state. 
  • Promote practices that increase long-term carbon sequestration in forests and forest products;

Land management experts, non-profit organizations, and key stakeholders representing universities, federal, state, and local agencies working in conservation, forestry agriculture and coastal planning are supporting this initiative.  Over the next year, the Stakeholder Group will meet 3 to 6 times to develop a plan that identifies opportunities for natural and working lands, prioritizes pathways or courses of action for public and private lands, and identifies resources needed to implement the various pathways.

Getting Started 

Prior to the first full stakeholder kick-off meeting on October 22, 2018, a small team participated in a Learning Lab where they began a structured analysis of several cost-effective opportunities for land conservation, land management, and ecosystem enhancement in North Carolina.  Based on this analysis, action matrices containing best practices, primary barriers and incentives, and policy and financial tools were developed. 

October 22, 2018: Kick-off Meeting (Raleigh)
Agenda

To get the stakeholder group started, DEQ staff laid out the vision, goals, and guiding principles for this collaborative stakeholder group.  While getting to know each other, meeting participants learned of each other’s expertise and started to identified key issues and topics to explore at future stakeholder meetings. Then, a variety of experts from various fields presented on topics including:

  • Summary of the U.S. Climate Alliance NWL Learning Lab on developing action matrices to implement priority pathways
  • Opportunities to sequester carbon in North Carolina identified by national experts
  • Action matrices for Reforestation and Avoided Conversion Pathways
  • Pocosins restoration project at Pocosins Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
  • The Division of Land and Water Stewardship resources and programs

After the presentations, the group discussed the topics in terms of pathways, or courses of action. Individual members also had the opportunity to complete a preliminary ranking of the presented pathways. By the end of the workshop, the group agreed to focus on opportunities that would overlap with recovery and resilience so that these activities may have access to funding and provide near-term benefits.  The group supports developing an action plan that focuses on recovery and resilience in areas with significant carbon and other co-benefits. 

North Carolina Land Uses

0%Land in Private Forests 16 million acres
0%Land in Farms 8.4 million acres
0%Other Uses 4 million acres
0%Land In Public Forests 2.8 million acres

For more information

For technical information or input on the Natural & Working Lands Stakeholder group, please contact Paula Hemmer.

For information on participating in the stakeholder group, please contact Sharon Martin.

NC state outline

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