Since the 1930s, the New Jersey Forest Service’s Big Tree Conservation Program has kept a record of big trees in New Jersey. The Official New Jersey Big Tree Registry is a compilation of the largest native and naturalized tree species throughout the state. These trees have been nominated by New Jersey residents and have environmental, aesthetic and genetic value. Additionally, some trees have historic value and should be conserved for future generations.
Some of New Jersey’s big trees also have historic value. These trees have been around for hundreds of years, witnessing many state and local historic events, and are known as Heritage Trees or Witness Trees. These historic tree monuments are important to New Jersey’s natural heritage and occupy all unique geographic regions found in New Jersey. We can use these trees to tell stories of the past or preserve the memories we make today for our children.
The benefits of conserving big trees are countless, prompting the New Jersey Forest Service, in 2019, to change the name of the program from The Champion Tree Program to The Big Tree Conservation Program. Prior to 2019, the emphasis was mainly on locating Champion Trees (the largest trees in the state) or National Champions (the largest New Jersey trees in the United States). The New Jersey Forest Service takes great pride in educating the public on the proper conservation of big and heritage trees to help ensure that they will continue to provide enjoyment for many years to come.
In 2016, the New Jersey Forest Service had 150 trees listed on the Official New Jersey Big Tree Registry, with very little public participation in the program. Today, the New Jersey Big Tree Conservation Program boasts more than 400 big trees on the registry and participation has grown tremendously.
Big trees give us hope. These massive trees have stood the test of time and weathered countless storms and events. If these great survivors can stand strong after enduring so much, then so can we.
New Jersey takes pride in its big trees and for good reason. These mammoth trees are not just tree resources; they are mega tree resources providing up to 600 times the environmental benefits of typical trees. Big trees: