The Onslow Bight extends from the lower Northeast Cape Fear River to the Pamlico River and from offshore waters to approximately 30 miles inland. The area is a unique landform of barrier islands, marshes, riverine wetlands, pocosins, longleaf pine savannas and many other coastal ecosystems.
These diverse natural communities provide habitat for numerous rare plant and animal species, including several species that are found only in this area and nowhere else in the world. The pocosins and longleaf pine forests are critical habitat for nesting and foraging red-cockaded woodpeckers, while the delicate barrier islands are essential habitat for sea turtle and water bird nesting.
The natural communities of Onslow Bight are threatened by rapid development, fire suppression in fire-dependent ecosystems, non-native invasive species, hydrolic alteration and over-collecting of marketable species (such as the Venus flytrap).
The Onslow Bight landscape includes many large areas managed for various purposes including conservation, as well as numerous smaller conservation sites and unprotected Significant Natural Heritage Areas.
In 2002, The Nature Conservancy along with several governmental agencies and private conservation groups and other interested agencies and groups, formed the North Carolina Onslow Bight Conservation Forum. This ongoing collaboration aims to increase land protection, promote appropriate land management, create habitat corridors and reach out to local communities to encourage their involvement. In 2005, the partnership was recognized by the White House at its Conference on Cooperative Conservation.