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Buffer Study

Northern gray treefrog, aerial view of development near a pond,  Atlantic white cedar swamp, and aerial view of development near a swamp

Freshwater wetlands comprise about 25% of the Pinelands. Since 1980, the region's wetlands have been afforded a high degree of protection by the Comprehensive Management Plan administered by the Pinelands Commission.  A major focus of the Pinelands wetlands program is the establishment of upland-buffer zones to minimize the adverse effects of development occurring adjacent to wetlands.  Although research conducted by the Commission and others has demonstrated that watershed-wide upstream land uses can significantly affect Pinelands stream chemistry and aquatic communities, the impact of adjacent development on Pinelands wetlands and the buffer distance needed to protect wetland integrity has not been well documented.  In 2008, the Commission received an Environmental Protection Agency grant to quantify the relationship between the proximity of developed lands and the ecological integrity of Pinelands wetlands.  The biological indicators that will be examined in the study include palustrine-wetland plants and pond-breeding frogs and toads.  Staff scientists began collecting field data in 2009.