Natural Heritage Program Publications

Regional and County Inventories

Natural Heritage Program biologists work throughout North Carolina to document our natural areas. We conduct inventories for rare animals, plants, wetlands, riparian areas, and plant communities at the scale of a single parcel all the way to an entire county.

Information from these projects has been instrumental in some of North Carolina’s biggest conservation successes over the past 30 years, such as Chimney Rock State Park in the mountains and the Roanoke River landscape-level nature preserves.

This map details the inventory status for each county.

View Inventory Map

Rare Plant and Animal Lists

The Natural Heritage Program is a leader in monitoring the status of North Carolina's rare plants and animals.

  • Natural Heritage Program surveys for new populations of rare and protected species.
  • We gather information from a wide variety of sources including the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, and the NC Plant Conservation Program. 
  • Rare plant and animal lists are comprehensively reviewed and updated every two years.

Natural Communities

More than 340 natural community types ranging from the grassy balds in the mountains to the maritime forests of the barrier islands have been described in North Carolina. The Natural Heritage Program documents the best examples of these natural communities throughout the state, with site reports, element occurrence records, and GIS-based maps.

These natural communities are described in "Guide to the Classification of the Natural Communities of North Carolina (Fourth Approximation)" (Schafale 2012), available below.

Until complete descriptions of natural communities are available in the Fourth Approximation, the older, but full descriptions from the Third Approximation may be useful: