The Linking Lands and Communities Project is a five-county effort to gather information about the region’s natural resources and identify opportunities to link these important natural systems via a Regional Green Infrastructure Network. The project has involved over 40 organizations and agencies from Buncombe, Madison, Henderson, and Transylvania counties and culminated in a series of maps and GIS models that can be used to support land conservation, land use planning and land management.
More than 45 data sets were combined to identify important landscape hubs and connecting corridors across the five-county region. Resource assessments were also conducted to identify lands that significantly contribute to the region’s water quality, serve as important wildlife habitat and sustain biodiversity, and provide opportunities for sustainable agriculture (farming and forestry).
Maps and models for the Land-of-Sky Region were completed in July, 2010. In the spring of 2012, all maps and models were updated with most current available data and the addition of Haywood County. The current maps reflect data from all 5 counties.
There are a series of mapping tools available for public use, including:
Regional Green Infrastructure Map: Uses “Combined Hubs Map” to identify landscape corridors that link important hub areas.
Water Quality Assessment: Identifies lands that help to sustain and enhance water quality. The model prioritizes forested watersheds with moderate to high quality streams present. There is also a water quality hubs map available.
Wildlife Habitat & Biodiversity Assessment: Identifies lands which provide wildlife habitat for a diversity of plants and animals and support rare, threatened, and endangered species and natural communities. A Wildlife Habitat & Biodiversity hubs map is also available, as well as individual assessments of the region’s wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and priority ecological systems.
Agriculture Assessment: Identifies viable farm and forest lands that supports the region’s agricultural community and their contribution to the local economy and cultural landscape. An Agriculture Hubs map is also available.
Combined Hubs Map: Illustrates lands which received the highest ranking for each assessment and lands with multiple resource values.