Natural and Working Lands

Natural and Working Lands Action Plan: Building North Carolina's Green Infrastructure

The natural systems upon which we depend are essential to communities, economies, and ecosystems. North Carolina's Natural and Working Lands initiative offers opportunities to build ecosystem resilience and sequester carbon while continuing to deliver economic growth. The NC Departments of Environmental Quality and Natural and Cultural Resources called upon expert stakeholders — including land management experts, nonprofit organizations, and key stakeholders representing federal, state, and local agencies and universities working in conservation, forestry, agriculture, and coastal and urban planning — to develop the Natural and Working Lands Action Plan. This plan builds on a wide range of actions and measures that protect, restore, and enhance the lands and coastal areas that provide vital health, social, economic, and environmental benefits. The stakeholder recommendations prioritize short, cost-effective, and pragmatic solutions as well as identify long-term actions that require more effort, funding, and agency or legislative support.

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 policies, financial mechanisms, and incentives needed to execute the various pathways. Listed below are the shared goals for this effort:

  • Enhance the ability of the land to sequester carbon and mitigate greenhouse gasses.
  • Build resilience in ecosystems and communities.
  • Provide public health and ecosystem co-benefits.
  • Create economic opportunities for agri-business, recreation, and tourism.
  • Ensure implementation of any action is a socially equitable process.

The expert stakeholders mentioned above are supporting this initiative. They were divided into six Land Sector Subcommittees for the development of this report:

  • Forestry
  • Floodplains & Wetlands
  • Pocosins
  • Coastal Habitats
  • Agriculture
  • Urban Lands
North Carolina Natural and Working Lands Action Plan

(Click image to download full report)


Executive Summary

Summary of Recommendations

NWL Data and Methods Guide

NWL Story map 


Implementation of nature-based solutions across North Carolina requires a focused commitment of financial and human capital. Some solutions begin working in a short time frame, such as improved crop practices to re-wetting draining pocosins, where the carbon and soil benefits are realized quickly. Others, such as reforestation, mat take decards to fully realize the carbon and ecosystem co-benefits. Due to the time required to have a functional green infrastructure that mitigates the impacts of climate change and sequesters carbon, the implementation must start now. 

Expert Stakeholders that participated in the development of the Action Plan are currently working toward implementing these recommendations. NWL leads will continue to coordinate implementation efforts by state agencies and other stakeholders. 

For more information, contact:

Subcommittee Name Organization Email
NWL Program Lead Misty Buchanan Dept. of Natural & Cultural Resources
Forestry Jessie Birckhead Wildlife Resources Commission
Coastal Jacob Boyd Dept. of Environmental Quality
Flood Plains & Wetlands Kim Matthews Research Triangle Institue
Pocosins Scott Pohlman Dept. of Natural & Cultural Resources
Urban Lands Emily Barrett Triangle J COG
Agriculture Joseph Hudyncia Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services