Protected Woodland Species

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) protects species of plants and animals that are in danger of extinction. The purpose of the ESA is to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The ESA is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Commerce Department’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The USFWS has primary responsibility for terrestrial and freshwater organisms, while the responsibilities of NMFS are mainly marine wildlife.

Many of the 67 federally threatened and endangered species that are known to occur in North Carolina live in or use woodlands.  The American Tree Farm System (ATFS) Standards require participating landowners to manage land to protect these threatened and endangered species as follows:

ATFS Standard 5, Performance Measure 5.1
Forest management activities shall protect habitats and communities occupied by threatened or endangered species as required by law.
Indicator 5.1.1
Landowner shall periodically confer with natural resource agencies, state natural resource heritage programs, qualified natural resource professionals or review other sources of information to determine occurrences of threatened or endangered species on the property and their habitat requirements.
Indicator 5.1.2
Forest management activities shall incorporate measures to protect identified threatened or endangered species on the property.


The N.C. Natural Heritage Program, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service maintain information about protected species that occur in North Carolina. Review these lists to determine what species might be present in your woodlands.


North Carolina has approximately 475 species of birds that live in the state at some point during the year.  Of those, 14 species are either state or federally listed as endangered or threatened, and only the red-cockaded woodpecker is a woodland species.  However, another 45 species are state listed as special concern or significantly rare and many of these are woodland species.


21 of the 121 mammal species in North Carolina are state or federally listed as endangered, threatened or special concern. Get details about the species that occur in woodlands here.


18 species of North Carolina’s 165 reptiles and amphibian species are federally listed as endangered or threatened.  In addition, another 32 species are state listed as special concern or significantly rare.