NEW JERSEY INVASIVE SPECIES COUNCIL
New Jersey is home to a wealth of natural and agricultural resources and biodiversity - including 2.1 million acres of forests, 850,000 acres of farmland and 52 globally rare species, some found nowhere else in the world. These resources provide goods and services that are valued at an estimated $20 billion per year.
Unfortunately, the increasing number of invasive species in New Jersey threatens our natural and agricultural heritage. Invasive species are those that are introduced to an area outside their natural range where they eventually have detrimental effects on natural and agricultural systems as well as the human population. Invasive species range from plants and animals to fungi, microbes and pathogens.
Thousands of non-native species have been intentionally or unintentionally brought to the United States and New Jersey. Many of these species are benign while others, such as agricultural crops, are highly beneficial. However, a small percentage have caused severe damage to our environment and to our health. The economic damage caused by invasive species has been estimated to exceed $100 billion annually in the United States. New Jersey suffers $290 million in annual agricultural losses alone.
To address growing concerns about invasive species, state officials convened the New Jersey Invasive Species Council to coordinate and guide invasive species activities throughout New Jersey and to act as a liaison for regional and national cooperative efforts.
Since its creation, the Council has focused on developing the New Jersey Strategic Management Plan for Invasive Species. The management plan includes, among other things: findings concerning the current status of non-indigenous plant species in New Jersey and their impact on habitat, biota and natural ecosystems; identification of prevention methods and procedures for early detection and rapid response; control measures; identification of restoration and research needs; establishment of information management, education and interpretation measures; and coordination among state agencies and adjacent states.
In addition, the Department of Environmental Protection adopted a policy directive prohibiting the planting of invasive non-indigenous plant species into state-administered lands and waters. The DEP also published an Overview of Non-Indigenous Plant Species in New Jersey, an essential guide to the history, key definitions and threats, including 27 fact sheets of the plant species considered to be most harmful to New Jersey’s ecosystems.