Sprawled across 434 acres of the lush Pisgah National Forest, the North Carolina Arboretum, often referred to as the Asheville Arboretum, stands as a testament to the state’s natural beauty. Its verdant landscapes, educational exhibits, and comprehensive plant collections offer an immersive experience to all who visit.

However, a question that often arises amidst the wonderment of its trails and exhibits is,

Who owns the NC Arboretum?

This article provides a detailed, comprehensive exploration of that question.

Quick Answer

  1. The NC Arboretum is an affiliate of the University of North Carolina system.
  2. The land on which the arboretum stands belongs to the Pisgah National Forest.
  3. The North Carolina Arboretum Society, a non-profit organization, supports the arboretum’s operational and programming needs.
  4. The arboretum’s management is under the jurisdiction of a 15-member Board of Directors.

Delving Deeper:

An Affiliate Of The University Of North Carolina System

While the Asheville Arboretum is a beloved regional entity, its organizational roots run much deeper. It is, in fact, an affiliate of the University of North Carolina system.

The arboretum was established by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1986, and its affiliation with the University of North Carolina system signifies the commitment of the state’s educational institutions to research, education, and conservation of the region’s unique biodiversity.

Land Ownership: A Piece Of The Pisgah National Forest

The arboretum may be a state institution, but the land it sits on is federal property.

The land for the arboretum was provided by the U.S. Forest Service from the Pisgah National Forest, highlighting the fruitful collaboration between state and federal entities in the pursuit of environmental education and conservation.

The North Carolina Arboretum Society: A Pillar Of Support

While not a legal owner, the North Carolina Arboretum Society plays a crucial role in the arboretum’s operations.

This non-profit organization is dedicated to supporting the arboretum’s mission by providing vital funding for its programming and operational needs.

The society’s members, who pay annual dues, contribute directly to the maintenance and advancement of the arboretum.

Governance: The Board Of Directors

The Asheville Arboretum is managed by a 15-member Board of Directors. This board, appointed by the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors, oversees the arboretum’s strategic decisions, ensuring that it continues to serve as an educational, research, and recreational resource for the community.

A Collective Endeavor

Ownership of the NC Arboretum in Asheville isn’t encapsulated by a single entity but is rather a collective endeavor.

The arboretum’s existence is a result of collaboration between different entities dedicated to advancing public understanding and appreciation of plants.

From its establishment as a state entity, its location on federal land, to the support from the North Carolina Arboretum Society, and guidance from a dedicated board – each aspect is critical.

All these entities collectively contribute to making the arboretum a vibrant space that promotes the conservation of biodiversity and inspires human connections with nature.

While we’ve covered the broader strokes of the NC Arboretum’s ownership and management, it’s worth delving into each entity in greater detail to understand their roles, responsibilities, and contributions.

University Of North Carolina System: Enhancing Educational Outreach

As an affiliate of the University of North Carolina System, the arboretum contributes to the overall mission of the university: education, research, and public service.

This affiliation provides an excellent opportunity for collaborative educational programs and research initiatives. Students and faculty across the university system have access to the arboretum’s resources for study and research.

As a result, the arboretum becomes an open-air classroom and laboratory, facilitating learning beyond the conventional four walls.

Pisgah National Forest: The Land Provider & Partner In Conservation

As the arboretum stands on the land provided by the U.S. Forest Service from the Pisgah National Forest, this creates a unique relationship.

Both entities are dedicated to environmental stewardship and public education, and they work together to manage and protect the diverse ecosystems found within the arboretum’s boundaries.

This collaboration has resulted in successful conservation initiatives and enriched public programs, promoting a greater appreciation of our natural heritage.

The North Carolina Arboretum Society: Friend, Fundraiser, & Advocate

The North Carolina Arboretum Society is more than just a source of funds; it’s a community of passionate individuals committed to supporting the arboretum’s mission.

The society conducts fundraising events, recruits volunteers, and advocates for the arboretum at the local and state levels. It also sponsors a variety of educational programs and exhibitions at the arboretum, further enhancing its appeal to visitors.

Board Of Directors: Guardians Of The Arboretum’s Mission

The arboretum’s Board of Directors is responsible for preserving the integrity of the arboretum’s mission and ensuring its long-term sustainability.

The board members, appointed by the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors, bring a diverse range of skills and expertise to their roles. Their decision-making authority encompasses strategic planning, budget approval, and oversight of the arboretum’s operations and programming.

A Sustainable Future

While it’s clear that the NC Arboretum’s ownership and management is multi-layered, the common thread uniting these entities is a shared dedication to sustainability.

From the educational mission of the University of North Carolina to the conservation focus of the Pisgah National Forest, and from the fundraising efforts of the Arboretum Society to the strategic oversight of the Board of Directors, every aspect of the arboretum’s operation is geared towards sustainability.

As visitors wander the arboretum’s trails, explore its exhibits, and participate in its programs, they are enjoying the fruits of a shared vision for a sustainable future.


  1. The North Carolina Arboretum. About the Arboretum.
  2. The University of North Carolina System. NC Arboretum.
  3. The North Carolina Arboretum Society. About the Society.
  4. Pisgah National Forest. History and Culture.
  5. The North Carolina Arboretum.Education.
  6. The University of North Carolina System. Mission.
  7. The North Carolina Arboretum Society. Support the Arboretum.
  8. Pisgah National Forest. Land Management.
  9. North Carolina Arboretum. Governance.