Focus Areas & Protected Lands

Ducks Unlimited's Lowcountry Initiative is a nationally important wetlands conservation and long-term management effort undertaken in coastal South Carolina in cooperation with the goals of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. The initiative contains five major focus areas: Cooper River, Santee River, ACE Basin, Winyah Bay and Savannah Basin. These focus areas were selected for conservation first and foremost because of their outstanding ecological value. Of nearly equal importance, however, is the feasibility of protecting large acreage in its natural state.

Click here to view a larger version of the Lowcountry Initiative Focus Areas Map
Click on the image above to view the Lowcountry Initiative Focus Areas & Protected Lands map (PDF).

Large, privately owned plantations ranging in size from 2,000 to 52,000 acres (some dating to the 16th century) are the primary landholdings in the focus areas. This unique situation, coupled with expressions of interest from many of the landowners, creates an unparalleled opportunity to achieve significant land and water protection. Nearly 1 million acres already are under protection. The initiative seeks to conserve an additional 700,000 or more wetland and upland acres, primarily through agreements with private landowners.

South Carolina conservation easement


Through the initiative, Ducks Unlimited has a unique opportunity to protect wetland and upland habitats using conservation easements on private lands. DU's conservation easement program accepts easements in perpetuity through its Wetlands America Trust. Such long-term protection will conserve large, undeveloped upland and wetland ecosystems for the benefit of waterbirds, other wildlife and the threatened and endangered species that occur in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

Major habitats include salt, brackish and tidal freshwater marshes; old rice fields; sea and barrier islands; tidal freshwater swamp forests; alluvial and blackwater rivers; bald cypress-tupelo gum swamp forest; bottomland hardwood forest; pocosin swamps; pine savannas; and upland pine-hardwood forests. Migratory shorebirds, raptors and neotropical landbirds use this area in great numbers, and up to 50 percent of all dabbling ducks in the Atlantic Flyway winter here.

South Carolina conservation easement


As of November 1, 2017, Ducks Unlimited has permanently protected more than 127,000 acres of wetlands and upland habitat in the Lowcountry Initiative Area via voluntary conservation easements.

For more information

Diana Iriarte
Conservation Lands Coordinator
(843) 277-8241