DEP Seeks Public Comment on Major Update to State Wildlife Action Plan (DEP News Release, 12/11/17)
NOTE: To access specific portions of the plan, please use the bookmarked Table of Contents on Page vii in New Jersey's State Wildlife Action Plan (pdf, 32mb)
Identifying the threats to Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) is among the most significant of the "eight required elements" of a Wildlife Action Plan. Threats to New Jersey's Focal Species and their habitats are discussed in Chapter 3, Section I (pdf, 32mb) of the Plan.
The Case for a "Common Lexicon"
Not unlike the ranges of wildlife species themselves, the threats affecting SGCN commonly go well beyond the borders of any individual state and are often deserving of regional conservation action. But differences in the way individual states identify and characterize threats to their SGCN have impeded compilation and collaboration among the region's SWAPs. An important step to improve coordination among regional conservation programs is to establish a common language, or lexicon, for describing the threats to SGCN and developing actions to address them.
With this understanding, states in the Northeast involved in the 2015 SWAP revision process collectively decided to use a common classification system known as the "Northeast Lexicon" (see Attachment I) (pdf, 32mb). This lexicon uses the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) threats classification scheme, which consists of eleven broad primary categories of threats. Each of these is further subdivided into secondary and tertiary sub-categories of increasing detail (to which New Jersey has added a more state-specific fourth threat level).
Though the IUCN lexicon was found to be quite comprehensive, threats can also be recognized as "factors that drive the need for taking conservation action." States and conservation organizations have therefore looked to the "action drivers" identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Tracking and Reporting on Actions for Conservation of Species (TRACS) reporting system as a meaningful way to expand upon the threat categories provided by the IUCN.
The 2015 SWAP Threat Assessment Process
In developing New Jersey's Wildlife Action Plan, the Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) found ten of the eleven primary IUCN threat categories to be relevant to New Jersey (a category addressing "Geological Events" like earthquakes, tsunamis, avalanches and landslides was omitted). DFW also chose to address three TRACS action drivers: "Resource Management Needs," "Education and Outreach Needs," and "Administrative Needs." In combination, the ten applicable IUCN threat categories and these three TRACS action drivers result in a total of thirteen "threat categories" upon which to base New Jersey's SWAP.
Having identified the appropriate lexicon for assessing threats, DFW reviewed the threats from the original New Jersey SWAP (2006), as well as additional threats identified in the years since. These threats were consolidated into the IUCN and TRACS formats. The resulting hierarchy of SWAP threats and action drivers used by DWF in its assessment are presented in the "List of Threats and Action Drivers" (see Appendix H) (pdf, 32mb).
DFW taxa team experts then assessed how each of the threats and action drivers affect New Jersey's 107 Focal Species. In making these assessments, the taxa teams used a qualitative "expert-opinion"-based approach (loosely modeled on the Northeast Lexicon report's "Threat Characteristics and Categorical Ratings" (see Attachment I, Table 7) (pdf, 32mb), which considered the severity, reversibility, immediacy, spatial extent, certainty, and likelihood of individual threats as they pertain to each Focal Species. A holistic "low," "moderate," "high," or "not applicable" impact rating was assigned to each threat for each of the 107 Focal Species.
The results of this assessment helped to identify the most widespread and severe threats to New Jersey's wildlife and their habitats (see Chapter 3, Section I.C, Table 3) (pdf, 32mb). The DFW considers these threats and action drivers to be the most deserving of immediate or near-term conservation action. A complete list of threats can be found in the report, "Threats to and Conservation Actions for the Focal Species of Greatest Conservation Need" (see Appendix J) (pdf, 32mb).
Please use the form below to submit comment on Assessing the Threats to New Jersey's Focal Species and Their Habitats only; there are separate comment forms for each aspect of the Plan. Be sure to complete fields that are designated as "* = required".