The Nature Conservancy

by Editor/Margo Harvey | Jul 7, 2015
The Nature Conservancy The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.

According to their website, the Nature Conservancy's Impact includes the following:
60 years
600 scientists
35 countries
1,000,000 members
120,000,000 acres conserved

Since 1955, the Nature Conservancy has protected more than 56,000 acres in the Garden State. Their first project preserved 500 acres of one of New Jersey’s last old growth forests at Hutcheson Memorial Forest in Somerset County. Today, the Chapter focuses on species and natural communities at risk in three program areas across the state: Skylands, Pine Barrens, and Delaware Bayshores.

The Conservancy protects places where plants, animals, and natural communities can survive for generations to come. They use science to identify and preserve ecoregions—large geographic areas of land and water defined by climate, vegetation, geology, and other natural patterns. Conservation by Design, a systematic, science-based strategy helps them identify and preserve the most critical areas for long-term protection of plants, animals, and natural communities in the places like the Pine Barrens.

They use creative conservation strategies that achieve lasting results by finding common ground in local communities. They believe in balancing human and ecological needs. They acquire land, work with conservation minded-landowners, and forge partnerships with public and private groups to protect natural areas for future generations.

Spanning the state’s northern and central counties, the Skylands is marked by sweeping vistas, dense limestone forests, and working farms. A rich assemblage of plant and animal species and unique natural communities, the most varied in the state, are found here. Two other areas, the Pine Barrens and Delaware Bayshores, are located right in your own backyard. The Nature Conservancy is working hard to protect the environment in South Jersey.

Spanning more than one million acres, the Pine Barrens is the most extensive undeveloped area on the eastern seaboard between Boston, Massachusetts and Richmond, Virginia. The region harbors the largest example of pitch pine barrens on Earth as well as globally rare pygmy pine forests. These fire-shaped landscapes rely on natural fire regimes or ecologically prescribed burns to survive. Mixed pine and oak forests and Atlantic white cedar swamps also thrive here, as well as many threatened plants and animals including curly grass fern (Schizaea pusilla) and Pine Barrens treefrog (Hyla andersonii).

In the Pine Barrens, The Nature Conservancy has safeguarded nearly 3,400 acres at four nature preserves. These special places include the 520-acre Oswego River Preserve, which spans diverse natural communities; Forked River Mountain Preserve, 1,740 acres linking neighboring protected lands to form an impressive greenway; and the Berkeley Triangle Project, a donation from a developer of nearly 4,500 acres, now protected and open to the public.

Using their science-based conservation as well as their creative partnerships and strategies, they’re addressing threats to the Pine Barrens’ natural heritage—alterations to natural fire regimes and inappropriate development. They use science to promote ecological fire management to protect fragile fire shaped landscapes and natural communities. They also monitor the health of other plants, animals, and natural communities. Their creative partnerships with the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, the Forked River Mountain Coalition, state and local agencies, the agricultural community, and corporations have also helped preserve the natural heritage of this special place.

Spanning two states, the Delaware Bayshores is a relatively intact natural area acknowledged as one of the Earth’s most important stopovers for migratory birds. The Bayshores’ beaches, wetlands, and forests provide vital feeding and resting grounds for songbirds and shorebirds on their northern migration. In the fall, raptors and other resident birds as well as a host of other threatened and endangered plants and animals find refuge here.

Each spring, a natural phenomenon that has been repeated for millennia occurs, when countless horseshoe crabs come ashore to spawn. Migratory birds that travel up to 9,000 miles on the Atlantic Flyway feed on the eggs of these ancient animals. For many birds, the Bayshores’ beaches and marshes are the only stop on an annual odyssey from their winter-feeding grounds in South America to Arctic breeding sites. Preserving the health and quality of this key stopover for migratory birds has global conservation implications.

In the Bayshores, the Conservancy has safeguarded nearly 12,300 acres at 18 nature preserves. These special places include the 850-acre Lizard Tail Swamp Preserve, comprising forests and wetlands; Maurice River Bluffs Preserve, more than 534 acres of resting and feeding grounds for raptors and other migratory birds; and Gandy’s Beach Preserve, more than 2,550 acres of beaches, marshes, and forests that provide nesting and feeding grounds for migratory birds.

Are you interested in helping the environment, working with others who share your love of nature, contributing your time and skills to an organization you believe in, and broadening your resume and/or life experiences? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, consider volunteering with The Nature Conservancy. For opportunities view the calendar of events on their website. For other volunteer opportunities or more information, please contact the New Jersey Chapter.

New Jersey Chapter Office
200 Pottersville Road
Chester, NJ 07930
Phone: 908-879-7262

If you are interested in opportunities close to home you can also contact the Delaware Bayshore Center.

Delaware Field Office
Community Service Building
100 West 10th Street, Suite 1107
Wilmington, DE 19801
Phone: 302-654-4707

For more information on The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey and how you can help or how to become a member visit them online at


© 2015. All rights reserved. This article or parts thereof may not be reprinted or reproduced by any other party without the express written consent of For more information, please call 856-797-9910.

For more on local Organizations, visit our South Jersey Organizations page.

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Author: Editor/Margo Harvey


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