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new jersey department of environmental protection  

 





Living with the Future in Mind
Goals and Indicators for New Jersey's Quality of Life
First Annual Update to the Sustainable State Project Report 2000
NATURAL AND ECOLOGICAL INTEGRITY
GOAL: Preserve and restore New Jersey’s ecosystems and the full complement of species that share the state with us. 
Few states have as many different types of habitat and ecosystems as New Jersey: bears and bald eagles populate our mountains, crabs and egrets live in our salt marshes, dolphins frolic off our shore, wild orchids bloom in our Pine Barrens.  Unfortunately, much of this natural heritage is being threatened. We are addressing this in some ways by preserving land, conserving wetlands and the birds and other species that depend on them, and reducing pollution in rivers and coastal areas.   Yet despite the efforts of many New Jerseyans, we face escalating threats to our biodiversity, primarily due to habitat loss.  Reduced biodiversity has economic as well as environmental consequences.  For example, a healthy and biologically diverse watershed cleanses water naturally, saving millions in water treatment.

What we know

Freshwater wetland impacts show little recent change

Nesting water bird populations decreasing

River health shows little recent change

Marine water quality increasing

What we don't know

• We do not have essential basic indicators of the health of New Jersey’s ecosystems and the diversity of the plants and animals that live in them. This includes the amount of habitat left for each species.

• We do not know the thresholds beyond which the loss of species and habitat lead to the unraveling of ecosystems in ways that also undercut the stability of all life on Earth.

• When species like birds and fish decline, we do not know how much of that loss is due to changes in the ecology of our own state and how much of it is due to ecological changes in other places where these animals spend part of the year, including South America and other parts of the United States.

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Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2006
Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Modified: April 30, 2007

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