By far the most successful of the private lands conservation strategies is Safe Harbor. Originally developed for Red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) conservation, the Safe Harbor approach is now being applied to many other listed species that occur on private lands. Under a Safe Harbor agreement, a landowner voluntarily agrees to protect and manage habitat for the 'baseline' population; that is the number of groups on the property at the time the agreement is signed. The landowner also implements specific habitat improvements (such as prescribed burning, midstory hardwood removal, installation of cavities) to further enhance occupied and/or unoccupied, but potentially suitable, habitat. If the habitat improvements encourage the creation of RCW groups above the 'baseline', the landowners are under no obligation to provide habitat for the new groups. Safe Harbor agreements ensure that baseline RCW populations are managed properly and remove regulatory concerns of landowners by eliminating their legal responsibilities for groups above the baseline.
Please review the below video for addional Safe Harbor information:
Through management practices encouraged under these Safe Harbor agreements, many additional federally listed plant and animal species as well as the imperiled longleaf pine ecosystem are perpetuated.
Approximately 454,000 acres of potential RCW habitat on private lands within South Carolina is enrolled in a safe harbor agreement. Under these agreements approximately 299 baseline RCW groups are included, and several of these properties have recorded additional groups above their baseline.