Green Growth Explained, Jan. 26, Sou. Pines


On January 26, Save Our Sandhills will host Brenda Johnson, a specialist in ecology and wildlife, to describe why The Green Growth Toolbox, a cooperative, non-regulatory effort developed by the Wildlife Diversity Program of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, is so important to North Carolina in general, and Moore County in particular.
By its own definition, “Green Growth is a nature-friendly way of developing communities. It means conserving habitat and biological diversity while building homes, businesses and shopping centers.” Its tools consist of a handbook, GIS data package, and a website.
This project was conceived because of the unprecedented population growth fueled in North Carolina in recent years, along with projections that over the next 20 years, 3 million additional people would move to North Carolina, threatening our environment, public health, and quality of life.
Therefore, in 2005, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission developed the North Carolina Wildlife Action Plan, which identified sprawling patterns of land development as a top threat to wildlife resources. Since land use in North Carolina is regulated at the local government level, where officials often do not have sufficient knowledge concerning risks to wildlife while they develop policies concerning growth, The Green Growth Toolbox concept gained traction.
Green Growth helps to bridge the gap between scientists and local decision makers by offering wildlife data and important wildlife conservation principles so that well-informed decisions can be made. While planning for growth, communities learn how to protect important species and habitats by locating their important natural resources and determining how best to conserve them through land use planning. Habitats support much more than wildlife.
They also sustain healthy ecosystems, healthy economies, healthy communities, and a high quality of life. This is why The Green Growth Toolbox emphasizes 10 benefits to communities: “1. Better health all around, 2.Economic return, 3.Environmental safeguards, 4.Avoid environmental conflicts, 5.Attract new economy businesses, 6.Increase prosperity, 7.Generate tourist income, 8.Reduce costs to taxpayers and local government, 9.Respond to public demand, 10.Improve quality of life.”
In North Carolina, 45 local governments (including counties and municipalities) have received Green Growth Toolbox training at 11 workshops which targeted jurisdictions that are experiencing significant habitat conversion to development. Twenty-one local governments have received technical guidance on 31 land use planning projects. Locally, both Moore and Harnett County planning staffs attended Green Growth Toolbox Workshops and received follow-up technical guidance, including one that took place at our local Weymouth Woods Nature Preserve Auditorium in mid-2010. The NC Wildlife Resources Commission has been working in partnership with regional organizations, including Sustainable Sandhills, the Coastal Land Trust, and Land of Sky Regional Council.
In Moore County, The Green Growth Toolbox has been used to provide recommendations to the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) that is currently under revision by the Planning Board. UDO’s are the rulebooks for how building and development occur in a community, and thus can have heavy impacts on wildlife habitat. Most Green Growth recommendations to the Moore County UDO were made to the Planned Unit Development (PUD) and Subdivision Ordinances, since these usually impact large tracts of land at a time. The UDO process is currently ongoing, and work continues to see Green Growth recommendations adopted.
Brenda Johnson has worked with Sustainable Sandhills for two years as their Green Growth Planner. Sustainable Sandhills, a nonprofit dedicated to conserving the natural resources of the eight-county region surrounding Fort Bragg, concentrates on four main program areas: Green Business Certification, Green Schools, Green Growth, and Local Food.
Johnson holds a B.A. in Zoology from Ohio Wesleyan University, an M.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences from NC State University, and has several years’ experience in ecology and wildlife biology research. Her work at Sustainable Sandhills is funded by a fellowship through Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE).
She is currently working with both Moore County and Harnett County to incorporate Green Growth strategies into their land use policies.
Join us for an informative and interesting evening; refreshments will be served. Thursday, January 26 at 7 PM in the Southern Pines Civic Club, corner of Ashe Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. All are welcome.

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