Wildlife Friendly Development

Wildlife Friendly Development is a joint initiative of NCWF, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and the NC chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

The goal of the program is to safeguard vital wildlife habitats by using sustainable development practices while optimizing the homeowner’s property value and quality of life. Developers and planners work together in the early stages of the planning process to minimize the effects of development on wildlife.

In order to help developers pick the best native plants for their landscape designs, we have created and provided a simple guide of best native plants for your projects as well as plants to avoid using due to their invasive potential. View the native plant guide.

To learn more about the program, including current projects and how to certify a location, visit the Wildlife Friendly Development website.

Wildlife Friendly Development

Homeowner Guide to Wildlife Friendly Homes

Development and urban sprawl are one of the main threats to habitat and wildlife conservation. The importance of creating wildlife-friendly spaces is ever-increasing. Here are a few actions that any homeowner or developer can take to make their home or property a better place for wildlife while additionally practicing better environmental and habitat stewardship.

NC Backyard Habitats
NC Backyard Habitats
NC Backyard Habitats
NC Backyard Habitats

Native plants

Native plants provide food, cover, shelter, places to raise young and water to a number of insects, birds and other wildlife. It is important to avoid planting non-native, invasive plant species in your gardens which often escape cultivation and invade nearby habitats. Aim for the goal to have 75%-100% North Carolina native plant species incorporated into your landscape designs. See NCWF list of recommended native plants here.

Rain gardens

Rain gardens help reduce stormwater runoff while also filtering pollutants, sediment and other particulate matter from stormwater. Rain gardens provide excellent habitat while also allowing for a larger diversity of plants to be incorporated into the landscape.

Rain barrels

Rain barrels collect stormwater from rooftops, allowing that water to be captured and reused on the property. This practice reduces stormwater runoff while also allowing a homeowner to reduce water usage by using the water they captured.

Incorporate Permeable Surfaces

Permeable surfaces allow water to percolate through the ground, restoring underground wells and maintaining the water flow through a natural landscape. It also contributes to reduced stormwater runoff. This could look like a patio, boardwalk, mulch, or vegetative pathway. Watch this webinar on Stormwater 101: Stewardship Practices with Big Impacts on Local Waterways

Dark Sky-Friendly Lighting

Light pollution across the globe has drastically altered habitats for nocturnal wildlife. Sea turtles, who use the light of the moon to find the ocean, often are confused by artificial lights and go inland instead. Switching to dark sky-friendly lighting can help reduce the effects of light pollution on your property and prevent wildlife confusion. Watch this webinar on Fireflies and Lightning Bugs to learn more about one of North Carolina’s most charismatic nocturnal insects.

Alternative Roofing Material

While shingles are full of harmful chemicals that can pollute nearby waterways, tin roofs do not release as many chemicals and are a sustainable alternative. Recycled shingles, clay tiles, and other materials can be explored.

Native Vegetative Buffers along Wetlands

instead of planting, mowing and maintaining turf grass up to the water’s edge, create a vegetative buffer strip along streams and ponds on your property. Buffer strips not only provide excellent habitat, but they can also slow down fast moving waters, allowing water to drop sediment, chemicals and pollutants from the water before being carried into larger bodies of water. This protects water quality for additional wildlife and habitats. The wider, the better!

Opt for Wildlife-Friendly Fencing

Habitat fragmentation has contributed largely to the decline of wildlife and suitable habitat. It is important to consider using wildlife-friendly fencing that is tailored to the property. Some fencing can allow small or medium-sized wildlife while others are better for birds or larger animals. Read A Landowner’s Guide to Wildlife Friendly Fences: Building Fences with Wildlife in Mind. To learn more about large scale wildlife connectivity, view this webinar: Wildlife Connectivity and Habitat Corridors

Supporting Urban Forestry

Trees are valuable assets to wildlife, but are also important to any property owner. Trees help increase water infiltration, filter pollutants and they also improve property values. Learn more about Urban Forestry by viewing this webinar Trees: The Lungs of the World

Guiding Principles for Wildlife Friendly Development and Installation:

  1. Avoid areas of high native biodiversity and high-quality natural communities
  2. Allow for wildlife connectivity, now and in the face of climate change
  3. Preferentially use disturbed or degraded lands
  4. Protect water quality and avoid erosion
  5. Restore native vegetation and grasslands
  6. Provide wildlife habitat

Additional Resources

Join the Cause and Make an Impact

Help NCWF preserve wildlife and wild places for our children and future generations. Learn More.