Designed to guide strategic wildlife habitat conservation, the Landscape Project is a pro-active, ecosystem-level approach for the long-term protection of imperiled species and their important habitats in New Jersey. The project began in 1994 by the N.J. Division of Fish Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP). It’s goal: to protect New Jersey’s biological diversity by maintaining and enhancing imperiled wildlife populations within healthy, functioning ecosystems.
The Landscape Project focuses on large land areas called “landscape regions” that are ecologically similar with regard to their plant and animal communities (Figure 1). Using an extensive database that combines imperiled and priority species location information with land-use/land-cover data, the Endangered and Nongame Species Program has identified and mapped areas of critical importance for imperiled species within each landscape region.
Landscape Project critical habitat maps (Figure 2) were developed to provide users with peer-reviewed,scientifically-sound information that is easily accessible. Critical habitat maps were designed for use by anyone, but especially those individuals and agencies who have the responsibility for making land-use decisions, i.e., municipal and county planners and local planning boards, state agencies, natural resource and lands managers, the general public, etc.
Critical area maps can be integrated with planning and protection programs at every level of government – state, county and municipal, can provide the basis for proactive planning, zoning and land acquisition projects.
Most importantly, the critical information Landscape Project products provide can be used for planning purposes before any actions, such as proposed development, resource extraction (such as timber harvests) or conservation measures, occur. Proper planning with accurate, legally and scientifically sound information will result in less conflict. Less time will be wasted, and less money spent, attempting to resolve endangered and threatened species issues.