Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
Tahoma Creek floodplain image credit Mount Rainier NPS
Mount Rainier NPS

Natural and Working Lands

When managed sustainably, natural and working lands—including farms, forests, and wetlands—can store carbon, enhance community and ecosystem resilience, and provide many other social, economic, and environmental benefits. Natural and working land management including reforestation, floodplain restoration, and maintenance of riparian buffers in agricultural lands are examples of nature-based solutions that provide value for both natural ecosystems and people. Decision-makers are increasingly interested in understanding, quantifying, and supporting the benefits of natural and working lands at local to national scales.

The Nicholas Institute’s Ecosystem Services Program is working with federal agencies, state government, non-governmental organizations, and researchers to provide information about the benefits of natural and working land and opportunities to sustain and enhance those benefits through management and policy. Based on our experience working with North Carolina on natural and working lands planning, the Nicholas Institute recently released a guide to developing state-level natural and working lands action plans.


North Carolina Natural and Working Lands

The North Carolina Natural and Working Lands Action Plan, part of the North Carolina Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan, was created in response to Executive Order 80 to identify opportunities for North Carolina’s natural and working lands.

North Carolina Pocosins Mapping

Pocosins are a unique type of wetland found in the North Carolina coastal plain. They provide valuable wildlife habitat and store large amounts of carbon in their deep peat soils. There is increasing interest in pocosin restoration as a nature-based solution that will benefit both natural ecosystems and people.

North Carolina Natural and Working Lands Dashboards

The NC Natural and Working Lands Action Plan quantifies the current and potential benefits from forests, farmlands, and wetlands in the state. To make this information more accessible, the Nicholas Institute has developed informational online dashboards.

Conservation Planning Tools for North Carolina’s People and Nature

Conservation organizations and land trusts in North Carolina are increasingly focused on how their work can 1) contribute to humans’ and ecosystems’ resilience and adaptation to climate change, and 2) directly mitigate climate change through carbon storage and sequestration.

Mapping National Natural and Working Lands Benefits

The Nicholas Institute collaborated with the US Department of Agriculture to identify datasets ready to use in a national assessment of natural and working lands benefits and to highlight data gaps and limitations.