North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Green Planning

Green Planning means crafting the vision, goals, and strategies in your community’s planning documents to conserve priority habitats and species as development occurs.


See Section 4 of the Handbook for more details

  Download the Toolbox Fact Sheet on Green Planning

Two ways local governments can engage in green planning are:

  1. Create a county or city-wide conservation plan.
  2. Include a “habitat conservation” section in existing planning documents.

Creating a conservation plan involves six basic steps:

  1. Establish a conservation vision and goals for your community.
  2. Identify and describe the status of important habitats.
  3. Develop conservation strategies.
  4. Identify mechanisms to implement these conservation strategies.
  5. Write the plan.
  6. Implement the plan and monitor progress.

Most communities already have plans that guide land use, such as comprehensive plans, watershed management plans, park and open space plans, transportation plans, and growth management plans. Writing a “habitat conservation” section for these existing plans may be easier than creating a new plan.

Local Conservation Plans

The Chatham County, North Carolina, Comprehensive Conservation Plan - was funded by external grants andwas created by a partnership of scientific experts, community members, the planning department and elected officials.

The Jasper County, South Carolina, Natural Resources Conservation Plan - is an example of an effective conservation plan adopted by a local government.

Village of Schaumburg, Illinois Biodiversity Recovery Plan - Part of the Village of Schaumburg’s Comprehensive Plan, the Biodiversity Recovery Plan guides the community’s efforts to preserve, restore, and maintain biodiversity within the community.

Land Use and Comprehensive Plans

City of Raleigh Comprehensive Plan - Section C.6, 'Wildlife Habitat Protection and Preservation', in the Environmental Protection section of Raleigh’s Comprehensive Plan - outlines policies and actions to guide the City’s future efforts in conserving and maintaining “priority” wildlife habitat and species identified in the North Carolina Wildlife Action Plan.

Orange County 2030 Comprehensive Plan - Chapter 6 of the Orange County Comprehensive Plan provides examples of goals and objectives that address conservation of priority natural areas and wildlife habitat.   

Town of Navassa, North Carolina, CAMA Land Use Plan - provides an example for a rural community near a major city. 

Randolph County, N.C., Growth Management Plan - emphasizes a vision and practical goals to conserve natural heritage through cluster development. It also lays out techniques to allow for higher density development, once public water and sewer are available on previously developed sites. 

Greenway Plans 

The Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, “New Horizons: A County-wide Greenways and Blueways Network,” plan uses habitat conservation data to identify a network of large habitat hubs and corridors. Strategies, land use methods and funding mechanisms to conserve the network are discussed. 

Transportation Plans 

McHenry County, Illinois, Long Range Transportation Plan - is based on a Green Infrastructure plan and maps that include important wildlife habitat areas.

Arizona Department of Transportation Wildlife Linkages Assessment - was created in consultation with wildlife professionals to identify key areas for wildlife underpasses and to minimize road construction. 

See the Green Growth Toolbox Handbook, Green Planning Section, for more example plans and links.