on Nov 06, 2013 04:53 PM • Views 3154

The Green Growth Tool Box is designed to help growing communities conserve wildlife and habitat, even as communities continue to expand. (Photo by N.C. Travel & Tourism)

Media Contact: Kacy Cook

RALEIGH, N.C. (Nov. 6, 2013) – The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has released a major update to its Green Growth Toolbox, a tool designed to help growing communities conserve wildlife and habitat, even as communities continue to expand.

The toolbox consists of a handbook, a GIS data package and a website that provide communities with wildlife habitat maps and data, land-use planning and development design methods and examples from other communities that plan for wildlife and natural resource conservation in developing areas.  Planning departments, developers and local governments can participate in training workshops and receive one-on-one technical assistance. The Wildlife Commission provides the Green Growth Toolbox and technical guidance at no cost.

The second edition of the GreenGrowth Toolbox Handbook includes:

·     More detailed information about the amount of habitat that wildlife  need in developing landscapes;

·     More step-by-step guidance on conserving wildlife habitat through land use and development planning;

·     Visual examples of how to use the conservation mapping data and how to design wildlife-friendly developments; and

·      More than 60 articles on the economic andsocietal benefits of a green-growth approach.

The toolbox handbook, which was released initially in 2009, was updated based on feedback from more than 200 planners, developers and local governments that attended Green Growth Toolbox workshops.

Since 2010, 25 communities have improved their conservation planning, policies and development designs using green growth principles after participating in a Green Growth Toolbox workshop.

Incorporating green growth practices into a development can increase property values, produce more profitable developments and increase the economic competitiveness of a community, according to Land Conservation Biologist Kacy Cook.

“Research has shown that housing developments near parks and natural areas are worth substantially more than those farther away,” Cook said. “A good example is in Apex, where homes in the Shepherd’s Vineyard development adjacent to the American Tobacco Trail sold for $5,000 more than comparable homes in a nearby neighborhood.”

Cook hopes that many more communities and developers will embrace a Green Growth approach to land-use planning and development to reduce wildlife habitat fragmentation in the wake of unprecedented population growth in North Carolina.

“In some areas of North Carolina, we are developing five times more land per person than we did in the 1970s,” Cook said. “On average, more than 100,000 acres of North Carolina’s forests and fields are developed each year — an area the size of Winston-Salem and High Point combined.”

She acknowledges that development is necessary for economic growth; however, it is the pattern of development that fragments habitat and causes the decline of wildlife and once picturesque rural areas.

“We all need a place to live and work,” Cook said. “The updated Green Growth Toolbox provides developers and local governments with the latest tools to accommodate this growth, but at the same time, conserve wildlife and habitats, which can enhance quality of life in communities, leading to increases in new businesses, home sales and property values.”

For more information on the Green Growth Toolbox or to schedule a workshop or presentation, contact Cook at 910-638-4887, or visit the Green Growth Toolbox page.

For more information about wildlifeand habitat conservation in North Carolina, visit the Conserving page.