Data Download

The NC Natural Heritage Program distributes two shapefiles, updates of which are provided quarterly in January, April, July, and October.  Scroll to the bottom of this page for downloadable GIS files and the corresponding links on the Help page for shapefile attribute information. Shapefiles are available for:

Natural Heritage Natural Areas (NHNA): This shapefile identifies terrestrial and aquatic sites that are of special biodiversity significance. A natural area’s significance may be due to the presence of rare species, exemplary natural communities, or important animal assemblages. This file is updated quarterly in January, April, July, and October.

Many of these natural areas are on private land and are not open to the public. Before visiting any of these sites, please contact the landowner for permission.

Managed Areas (MAREA): This shapefile identifies fee-simple properties and easements where natural resource conservation is one of the management goals. This file is updated quarterly in January, April, July, and October.

If you notice any errors or omissions, or have new or updated data to contribute, please contact

Conservation Planning Tool (CPT). CPT assessments are a means for synthesizing and sharing the priorities of the state's conservation agencies and organizations with planners in government and the private sector to inform decisions and guide conservation efforts statewide. Four assessment datasets are available for download at the bottom of this page:

  • Biodiversity and Wildlife Habitat
  • Open Space and Conservation Lands
  • Agricultural Lands (To rejoin the split zipfile, reverse the file extensions of the pieces, e.g., change to Your unzip software should now recognize the three files as a multipart zipfile.)
  • Forestry Lands

The data and maps included in these assessments integrate information from many sources and can be used independently or in combination to identify lands that provide multiple natural resource priorities. Please refer to the Conservation Planning Tool Report for more information about the data used in the development of the Conservation Planning Tool.

The NC Natural Heritage Program updates the Biodiversity and Wildlife Habitat assessment annually in April, and the Open Space and Conservation Lands annually, in July.

For the Element Occurrence Data, please use the "Requests" tab. GIS shapefiles of Natural Heritage Element Occurrences are available for purchase at a cost of $100.00 per species or natural community, county, or 8-digit Hydrologic Unit.

Federal, state and local government agencies are exempt from fees, as well as nonprofit agencies who use the project review tool and/or Natural Heritage Element Occurrence data to establish nature preserves.  All other individuals and organizations will be required to pay fees to download shapefiles of NHEOs.

You will be required to create a login. 

Please allow 5 business days for us to evaluate and complete your request.

Data Products

No products are available at this time.