Measuring the Value of Nature
We all depend on nature for clean air and water, fertile soils, food, storm protection and flood control. Nature also provides us with very tangible economic benefits, such as ecotourism and agriculture.
In New Jersey, our team of social scientists works to quantify nature’s benefits, both social and economic, and incorporate those values into on-the-ground conservation projects. Knowing the value of what nature gives us—and, through that knowledge, helping communities work more sustainably—is critical to our vision for a healthy and prosperous planet.
Helping our Coasts Adapt to a Changing World
In New Jersey, salt marshes are as much a part of the “Jersey shore” as beaches and suntans. Salt marshes provide clean water, sustain healthy fish and crabs and buffer coastal communities during storms. But we’re losing our salt marshes and their many benefits to sea level rise and climate change.
We’re working to restore these important wetlands using creative and cost-effective techniques like oyster reefs and using mud dredged from boating channels to restore salt marshes.
Restoring a River: The Paulins Kill
As the third largest New Jersey river draining into the Delaware, the Paulins Kill plays a critical role to the people and wild species that live within its watershed, including brook trout and freshwater mussels. However, fragmentation of forests, agriculture and development in the floodplain, and dams all pose threats to the river.
We’re working to improve the river by restoring degraded floodplains to increase healthy habitat and good water quality. And we’re striving to reconnect the Paulins Kill to the Delaware River so migratory fish like American Shad can once again access their historic spawning grounds. By focusing our protection efforts on key tracts of land surrounding the river, we will help ensure that forests remain intact healthy and continue to provide habitat for species, clean water, and recreational opportunities for people for years to come.
Nature-Based Solutions for People and Cities
Increased development is taking a toll on nature’s ability to provide the benefits we rely on, such as slowing flood tides and filtering our drinking water. We’re developing nature-based solutions to help address the growing problems of increased stormwater flooding and storm surge to help safeguard urban communities along the Delaware River and New Jersey Coast.
Building and restoring natural systems like wetlands, parklands, floodplains and coastal marshes provides critical protection for our waterways and cities, and adds to the wellbeing of communities. In the Cooper River Watershed, we are analyzing stormwater patterns to better understand their impacts in different towns and cities, especially in Camden, which is located farthest downstream. The results give us a broad picture of the watershed and allow us to determine the best placement of nature-based projects--like rain gardens--that will most effectively reduce stormwater impacts.
Conserving Critical Lands
New Jersey is projected to be the first state to reach ‘build-out’ by 2050, so protecting the most ecologically important landscapes, watersheds and habitat corridors is more urgent than ever.
We are strengthening partner relationships to set a shared vision of conservation priorities and develop a blueprint for future open space acquisition. Working together to expand key nature preserves and make strategic acquisitions will enable us to link together the highest quality core habitat areas, and promote greater outcomes than possible working alone.