North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Greening Incentives and Ordinances

Greening Incentives and Ordinances means structuring incentives, zoning and development ordinances to conserve priority habitats and remove regulatory barriers to better conservation.



See Section 5 of the Handbook for details

Natural Resource-Based:


The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the Duke Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions teamed up with the Town of Navassa, N.C., to provide a model ordinance for comprehensive natural resource and habitat conservation in North Carolina communities. The model ordinance acts as an overlay district and is meant to conserve only the most sensitive natural resource areas and the most rare types of upland wildlife habitats.

Click here to download the model ordinance and here to download the factsheet.

Natural resourced-based development ordinances can help your community implement science-based standards for development in the following areas:

  • Development application requirements
  • Protection of Natural Heritage sites
  • Protection of important wildlife habitats
  • Conservation developments
  • Stream, wetland, and floodplain protection
  • Protection of trees and native vegetation
  • Steep slope protection
  • Wildfire hazard and smoke management

Download the Conservation Subdivision Handbook from NC State University Forestry and Education Outreach Program and the NC Urban and Community Forestry Program.

Nature resourced-based zoning ordinances establish land use patterns that will reduce loss and fragmentation of key habitats while concentrating intensive growth in less environmentally sensitive areas.

Examples include:

  • Section 911 of the Burke County, North Carolina, Zoning Ordinance sets forth requirements for development within designated “conservation districts.” Within these areas, developments must set aside a minimum amount of open space, built structures must be located within designated building envelopes and clustering of dwellings is encouraged.

Tampa, Florida’s Upland Habitat Protection Ordinance —Designed to protect important plant communities and wildlife habitat in Tampa, the ordinance establishes an upland habitat overlay district.  Approved upland habitat plans are required before development can occur within the district.

Article 7-1700 of Boulder County, Colorado Wildlife Impact Reports —Boulder County’s Land Use Code  requires development proposals to include a wildlife impact report whenever the project is located within critical wildlife habitats, significant natural areas, or wildlife corridors shown on conservation maps in the county’s comprehensive plan. 

Orange County, North Carolina Natural Heritage Conservation Requirements —Orange County’s Code of Ordinances (Chapter 46, Article IV) requires development projects to identify strategies to protect Natural Heritage sites.

Chatham County, North Carolina Watershed Protection Ordinance—Chatham County’s ordinance requires field delineations and strong buffer requirements for all streams, springs, seeps and wetlands prior to development plan approval.

Park City, Utah Sensitive Area Overlay Zone —This policy establishes a series of overlay zones for protection of different sensitive natural areas, including steep slopes and ridgelines, important wildlife habitats, wetlands, and other important open spaces. 

Carroll County, Maryland Forest Conservation Ordinance —This ordinance requires forest protection plans to accompany development applications, and requires reforestation activities to accompany any type of land development. 

Jefferson County, Colorado Wildfire Hazard Overlay District—This ordinance limits land uses within the district, and requires hazard mitigation strategies around any dwellings and/or the submission of a wildfire mitigation site plans for developments located within the district. 

Section 3 of the Randolph County, NC Unified Development Ordinance outlines a conservation subdivision option. Incentives such as density bonuses and planning assistance to developers, have led 50 percent of developers to choose this option. Click here to download a power point presentation about the conservation-based growth policies and this conservation subdivision ordinance by the county planning department.

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NC Solar Template Ordinance: This ordinance was developed by the NC Solar Center and the NC Sustainable Energy Association.  It encourages large roof-top solar projects by reducing regulatory barriers for these, while also providing model standards for land-based projects.  A diverse group of experts provided input and review of this model including the FAA. Click here to view.