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.

  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.


Funding sources are available to support conservation planning activities. NCWRC has compiled a list of potential sources, click here: 

Local Conservation Plans

It is most effective if your community can adopt a conservation plan, which would then be used in all planning documents.

Local governments in the Triangle of North Carolina collaborated with local conservation organizations to create a regional landscape-scale analysis of priority wildlife corridors. This analysis was partially funded through Partners for Green Growth cost-share assistance.

The Chatham County, North Carolina, Comprehensive Conservation Plan was funded by external grants and was created by a partnership of scientific experts, community members, the planning department and elected officials. This document helped inform the county's Plan Chatham: Comprehensive Plan (2017).

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

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

Pierce County Washington, home of Takoma and Mt. Ranier, has a biodiversity planning program based on a biodiversity network assessment.  This program is an example of a conservation partnership between the county, universities and natural resource agencies.

Land Use and Comprehensive Plans

Randolph County, N.C.'s, Growth Management Plan is a plan for a rural community that 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 become available on previously developed large lots. 

The Town of Navassa, North Carolina, CAMA Land Use Plan provides an example of integrating priority conservation areas into a plan for a rural community near a major city. 

The City of Raleigh Comprehensive Plan - Section 5.6, '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.

Alachua County, Florida's comprehensive plan emphasizes clustered urban areas and clustered development. The Conservation and Open Space Element lays out excellent conservation objectives and policies and implements a monitoring program to track habitat fragmentation and loss.

Hamilton County, Indiana chose to develop an 'ecologically-based' comprehensive plan founded on a green infrastructure network. It focuses on rivers and less on upland habitat conservation.

Climate Resiliency Plans

Blacksburg, Virginia’s Climate Action Plan emphasizes the need for forest protection in order to meet its climate goals.

Albany, New York’s Comprehensive Plan’s Climate Action Plan identifies the protection of natural areas as a critical resiliency strategy. 

Oakland, California’s Equitable Climate Action Plan provides a model for effective climate resiliency planning that prioritizes equity, inclusion, and justice as the centerpiece of its engagement and action. The Adaptation chapter focuses on nature-based solutions.

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 

The McHenry County, Illinois, Long Range Transportation Plan is based on a green infrastructure plan and maps that include important wildlife habitat areas.

The 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.