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Optimizing Landscape Planning for Co-Benefits among Wildlife Populations and Agricultural Communities

McIntire Stennis - Optimizing Landscape Planning for Co-Benefits among Wildlife Populations and Agricultural Communities - College of Natural Resources at NC State


Wildlife management areas (WMAs) protect wildlife, support outdoor recreation, provide ecosystem services, and affect rural economies. In this project, researchers at the College of Natural Resources are developing tools to measure the value of WMAs in the Southeast and to identify land parcels best suited for future protection in future WMAs. Overall, this project will help ensure that the development of WMAs improves wildlife conservation efforts and rural well-being by quantifying wildlife conservation value, impacts to nearby property values, economic contributions via rural tourism, and carbon storage value of land considered for inclusion in WMAs.


Nils Peterson (Director)
Krishna Pacifici
Chris Moorman
Louise Vaughn
Will Casola
Erin Sills


Researchers are working with state wildlife management agencies, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuge system managers, municipalities and representatives from non-governmental organizations to support the use of and elicit feedback about how this project can guide land acquisition for WMAs. These partnerships also help to identify areas where federal, state, and other conservation priorities align with areas that, if conserved, could also provide ecosystem services and economic benefit to rural communities. Other collaborators include Katie Warnell and Lydia Olander of Duke University’s Ecosystem Service Program, Jane Harrison of North Carolina Sea Grant, and Rua Mordecai of the South Atlantic Land Conservation Cooperative. 


  • Ensure WMA expansion optimizes benefits to wildlife and rural communities.
  • Collaborate with WMA managers in 15 states across the Southeast and Puerto Rico as they plan where to conserve lands in the future.

A McIntire-Stennis supported project

About McIntire-Stennis

The McIntire-Stennis program, a unique federal-state partnership, cultivates and delivers forestry and natural resource innovations for a better future. By advancing research and education that increases the understanding of emerging challenges and fosters the development of relevant solutions, the McIntire-Stennis program has ensured healthy resilient forests and communities and an exceptional natural resources workforce since 1962.