A combined HCP/NCCP is a method of addressing the requirements of both the Federal Endangered Species Act (FESA) and the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), providing a regional approach to the long-term conservation of covered species conserving species and natural communities while allowing for compatible future land use and development.
A Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) is a planning document that is required before U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will issue an incidental take permit under the Federal Endangered Species Act (FESA). HCPs usually include a description of the activity or activities with potential to result in take of one or more federally listed species along with the methods by which impacts to species will be minimized or mitigated. The required contents of an HCP are defined in Section 10 of FESA and its implementing regulations. Although HCPs can be applied at the single project-scale, since their inception in 1982, HCPs have evolved from a process adopted primarily to address single projects to a more broad-based, landscape-level planning approach, utilized to achieve long-term biological and regulatory goals. This approach is similar to that of a Natural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP).
A Natural Community Conservation Plan (NCCP) is the California state analog to the federal HCP, and is administered and permitted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). An NCCP is similar to an HCP in many ways; however, an NCCP provides more flexibility, going beyond the requirements of FESA and the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) to provide an ecosystem approach to biological diversity preservation at the regional scale, while allowing compatible economic development. While CESA and FESA focus on the preservation of individual listed species and the impacts of individual development projects, the goal of the NCCP Act is to preserve functioning ecosystems and biological communities, including both listed and unlisted species, providing a net benefit for species, and preventing unlisted species from becoming listed. Guidelines for development of an NCCP can be found in the NCCP Act of 2003.