Natural Areas

Evaluating and Protecting Tennessee’s Rare Species and Habitats

The Division of Natural Areas is dedicated to the protection and proper management of native plants, animals, and natural communities across Tennessee. Along with managing a state-wide system of natural areas, the Division of Natural Areas is a lead authority regarding the location and ecology of Tennessee’s rare species. With experts in conservation biology, botany, zoology, ecology, natural resource management, and geographic information systems (GIS), Division of Natural Areas professionals focus their efforts on searches, monitoring, conservation, restoration, and management of Tennessee's native species and plant communities. Data gathered by division biologists help guide the Bureau of Parks and Conservation in protecting Tennessee’s special places as state parks or natural areas. We also assist other land-management agencies, conservation organizations, and individuals to determine proper management of plants and animals on Tennessee’s protected lands and private property. Furthermore, rare species data maintained by the division are used by individuals, companies, and public agencies in the environmental permitting and review process.

The Division of Natural Areas is a member of NatureServe’s Natural Heritage Network, a consortium of Natural Heritage & Natural Area Programs from each state in the U. S., and similar programs from Canada and Latin America. Division members contribute to NatureServe Explorer, a leading source information about North America’s native species and ecosystems.


  • Natural Areas Events

    Tennessee is fortunate to have 85 natural areas across the state. Guided hikes and tours of these ecologically significant areas are offered throughout the year and are sponsored by the Division of Natural Areas and regional conservation groups.

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  • Natural Heritage Inventory

    The Natural Heritage Inventory Program maintains a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database which contains information on the distribution and ecology of rare plants, animals, and ecological communities across Tennessee.

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  • Natural Areas Program

    The Tennessee Natural Areas Program, in the Division of Natural Areas, was established to provide oversight and management of Tennessee designated state natural areas. The Program administers the Natural Areas Preservation Act of 1971 (T.C.A. 11-14-101) and provides statutory authority for the protection of 85 designated state natural areas.

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  • Ginseng

     The purpose of this program is to monitor the harvest level of wild ginseng to ensure that its commercial exploitation does not cause it to become endangered, and to provide technical assistance to the State’s ginseng dealers and cultivators.

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  • Tennessee Scenic Rivers

    The Tennessee Scenic Rivers Program is a voluntary community-based partnership intended to preserve and protect the free flowing, unpolluted and outstanding scenic, recreational, geologic, botanical, fish, wildlife, historic or cultural values of selected rivers or river segments in the state. Thirteen rivers or segments of rivers are included in the state scenic rivers program.

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  • Environmental Reviews

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  • Contact Information

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