Few parts of the world boast a natural heritage as rich and beautiful as that of Louisiana's riverbasin swamps, marshes, chenier woodlands, pine savannahs, ravine forests, remnant prairies, and more. But Louisiana's landscape is changing rapidly. Conversion of large portions of our forests to agriculture, wetland losses, and expansion of suburban and commercial development have all taken their toll on our wild places.
Today only a small fraction of this once wild landscape remains in its original condition, and many of the plant and animal species are now rare or endangered. What remains of Louisiana's natural heritage needs our help to ensure its continued survival. This is the objective of the Louisiana Natural Areas Registry.
The Registry is designed to honor and recognize owners of outstanding natural areas for their commitment to the protection of our state's natural heritage. The program relies on citizen-based conservation and the willingness of landowners to safeguard the best that remains of our natural world.
Who Operates the Registry?
The Louisiana Natural Areas Registry was created by the Legislature in 1987. The Registry is a program of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries which allows the state to recognize the contributions made by Louisiana citizens in protecting our rich natural legacy.
How Does Registration Protect Natural Areas?
A Natural Areas Registry representative contacts landowners to discuss the special plants, animals, or natural communities which occur on their properties. By informing owners of the importance of these sites, the program reduces the chance that significant natural areas might inadvertently be destroyed.
Registration is totally voluntary and does not occur without the owner's consent. Registration of a site is publicized only it the landowner approves. Directions to the site are not published and registration provides no rights of public access. By seeking the cooperation of landowners, the Registry program encourages voluntary conservation of biologically unique lands.
How Does an Area Qualify?
To qualify for the Registry a property must contain at least one of the following natural values:
Habitat for native plants or animals with rare or declining populations in Louisiana.
Plant communities characteristic of the native vegetation of Louisiana.
Outstanding natural features such as old growth forests or wetlands.
What Commitments Does an Owner Make?
By consenting to register their properties owners agree:
To protect the area and its unique natural elements to the best of their abilities.
To notify the program representative of any threats to the area or the plants and animals within.
To notify the program representative of an intent to sell or transfer ownership of the area.
Each year the representative will contact the owner to determine whether conditions have changed or new threats have developed.
Is the Commitment Binding?
No. The agreement expresses a landowner's sincere intention to protect certain natural elements of state and national significance. It is not legally binding and does not subject the area to any new regulatory authority. The agreement may be cancelled by either party at any time, although 30 days notice is requested. If an event occurs which reduces the site's ecological value, it may be removed from the Register.
What Does Registration Offer the Landowner?
In honor of the commitment to protect the land, the owner receives a framed certificate bearing his or her name and the name of the registered area. Registry participants have the satisfaction of joining other select Louisiana landowners in a voluntary program to protect natural diversity, a benefit to present and future generations.
The following services, and others, are also available free of charge:
An annual ecological check-up on the health of the plants, animals, or habitat of special concern.
Preparation of a management plan, if needed, to assure the continued health of the natural area.
Consultation on how to protect the area should a transfer of ownership or other change become necessary.
A quarterly newsletter with information on the registry program, featured habitats and species found throughout Louisiana, federal and state cost-share funding programs and helpful management suggestions.
Are There Any Financial Advantages?
Registration involves no payment or receipt of funds. The program representative can, however, provide information on a variety of dedication methods that can offer tax benefits to the landowner.
Is The Option Of Permanent Protection Available?
For landowners who want to preserve their lands in perpetuity, the option of a permanent conservation servitude is also available. Conservation servitudes are a detailed legal agreement that identifies the conservation values on a property, prescribes targeted restrictions on use and development that would threaten those conservation values and defines allowed uses that are consistent with their protection. The landowner and prospective servitude holder tailor servitude terms to protect the land?s conservation values and meet the needs of the landowner. Each nominated property must go through an evaluation and review process to determine if the area qualifies for permanent protection with LDWF. If interested in servitudes through our program, read the Conservation Servitude Overview andStewardship Funding Policy.
For More Information on the LA Natural Areas Registry Contact:
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
Louisiana Natural Heritage Program
2000 Quail Drive
P.O. Box 98000
Baton Rouge, LA 70898-9000
Natural Areas Newsletters
The Natural Areas Registry Program produces a quarterly newsletter for all its registered members. This newsletter contains updates on the Registry Program, articles on featured natural communities and wildlife species, information on federal and state cost-share assistance programs, and management suggestions.