Partnering for Success with Sentinel Landscapes

Aerial of trees

Federal, state and local partners, including the NC State College of Natural Resources and NC State Extension Forestry, have joined efforts to protect North Carolina’s working farmland and forests, military training grounds, and natural resources and habitat. As part of the North Carolina Sentinel Landscapes Partnership, 33 eastern and Sandhills counties in North Carolina were designated as Sentinel Landscape. This important designation gives landowners and communities access to additional resources and helps encourage compatible land uses in areas where conservation, working lands and national defense interests converge. North Carolina is the first state with multiple military services, military installations and counties named as part of the designation.

“The national Sentinel Landscape designation of 33 counties running from North Carolina’s coast to the Sandhills region will go a long way to reducing the vulnerability and increasing the resilience and sustainability of the working lands, natural resources and military readiness assets that are concentrated in this area,” said Dr. Robert Bardon, Associate Dean of Extension and Engagement. “The multi-partner approach, that the NC State University College of Natural Resources Extension Forestry program has been facilitating since 2010, has been instrumental in obtaining this designation for North Carolina. This designation will help promote thriving rural economies, healthy natural habitats, and a strong military, which will benefit all of North Carolina.”

This designation will bring with it the development of voluntary programs of incentives for landowners that desire to participate. These voluntary programs will help private land owners, which make up which make up 90 percent of NC lands, remain on their land and continue to forest and farm.

The NC Sentinel Landscape Partnership, working together since 2009, have synergized around four main areas during the past several years. These include:

  • Working Lands Conservation by preserving working forests and farms with easements, outreach and support.
  • Landscape Scale Conservation by coordinating state and local programs that preserve agribusiness through limited assurances for production.
  • Building Local Purchasing Capacity through programs like Food and Fuels for the Forces that make it easier for the military to buy from local farmers and foresters.
  • Innovative Conservation Strategies that protect the military training mission through testing of market-based conservation and other innovative programs.

NC State Extension Forestry, Marine Corps Installations East (MCIEAST), and the Forest Education and Conservation Foundation (FECP) are leading the Working Lands Initiative to sustain working forests and farms in eastern North Carolina. NC State Extension Forestry is creating training materials and providing outreach support for forest and farm landowners so they can make informed decisions about how to best conserve their land.

The diverse network of partners, like the College of Natural Resources, are working together beyond their own boundaries through these initiatives because working lands, conservation and national defense are linked both physically and economically. Agribusiness and the military make up the top two economic drivers in NC and are threatened by unplanned development and incompatible land uses.

“This Sentinel Landscapes designation supports our military and underscores our state’s commitment to protecting working lands, critical natural resources and abundant wildlife,” said College of Natural Resources Dean Mary C. Watzin. “NC State University is proud to be a partner working with the Department of Defense and other federal and state agencies to demonstrate how thriving rural economies, healthy natural habitats, and a strong military provide benefits for all.”

By the Numbers:

  • NC has more than 18 million acres of forest land.
  • NC has more ore than 8 million acres of farm land.
  • NC is the ninth most populated state in the nation and expected to continue rising with more than 12 million people.
  • NC has the third largest military population in the nation and the largest Amphibious Training Complex.
  • The military is responsible for 10 percent of the NC economic activity, the state’s second largest economic sector.
  • Agriculture is responsible for $78 billion of the NC economy.
  • Agriculture employs 16 percent of the NC workforce.

Counties included in the designation: Beaufort, Bertie, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Greene, Harnett, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Moore, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Richmond, Sampson, Scotland, Tyrrell, Washington, Wayne and Wilson.

NC Landscape Sentinel Landscape Partnership Partners: Marine Corps Installations East, N.C. Farm Bureau Federation, N.C. State University, Environmental Defense Fund, N.C. State Grange, N.C. Forestry Association, N.C. Departments of Agriculture and Consumer Services,  Environmental Quality, Natural and Cultural Resources, Military and Veterans Affairs, and Commerce, the N.C. Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation, local soil and water conservation districts, Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources and many others.

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