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Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey (CHANJ)

Did You Know?

Europe has long supported wildlife passages across roads.
Wildlife overpass in Holland
The Dutch have built more than 600 road tunnels and overpasses to protect native animals. Ontzagwekkend! (Awesome!)

Tools of CHANJ
Our statewide mapping tool and guidance document are nearly ready to share. We expect they will be available in spring 2019, so please check back! Or e-mail us at and ask to be added to our e-mail list.

Projects & Partners

Featured Species

Making Headlines
CHANJ Seeks to Get Nature Together Again - The, 11/28/18
Watch for Turtles Crossing Roadways - DEP News Release, 6/19/18
New Underground Tunnel to Help Wildlife Cross Road - DEP News Release, 6/4/15

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Whether they’re small like a salamander or big and wide-roaming like a bear, animals need to be able to move through the landscape to find food, shelter, mates, and other resources. Without that ability to move, healthy populations simply will not persist over the long term. Here in New Jersey, wildlife are up against steady urbanization, a dense network of roads, and now a changing climate, all of which put the connectedness of our habitats and wildlife populations in jeopardy.

New Jersey at a Cross-roads

Right now, our state’s final landscape is being decided. Urbanized land is already the dominant land use type – covering more than 30% of the state – and NJ is on track to reach build-out by the middle of this century (Hasse & Lathrop 2010). With more development come more roads, and busier roads, further fragmenting the habitats we have left and making it increasingly difficult for wildlife to find the resources they need to survive and thrive.

Fortunately, NJ is also a recognized leader in preserving open spaces for recreation, agriculture, and nature. Nearly one-third of the state’s land mass is now in permanent preservation, thanks to steadfast public support and tremendous capital investments. In fact, NJ boasts a higher percentage of publicly-owned forest land than any other state east of the Mississippi (Widmann 2004). We must move quickly and purposefully to build on this strong foundation if we are to secure a legacy of healthy, connected ecosystems.

CHANJ Is Coming

Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey (CHANJ) is an emerging statewide effort, launched in 2012 with the vision of making our landscape and roadways more permeable to wildlife movement. Toward that vision, CHANJ offers a blueprint for strategic habitat conservation, including:

  1. A statewide analysis depicting areas crucial for habitat connectivity (which we call “cores” and “corridors”), and
  2. A menu of implementation actions for securing, restoring, and/or reconnecting habitats within those key areas.

These products are intended to help land-use managers, conservationists, and transportation planners to work in a more proactive and collaborative way that reduces conflicts, saves time and money, and ultimately improves the long-term prospects for NJ’s terrestrial wildlife. These products may also be useful in pinpointing areas for wildlife habitat mitigation work.

Roughly 126 wildlife species (pdf,510kb) stand to benefit from the connected landscape envisioned by CHANJ.

Flow chart showing the tools and goals of CHANJ
CHANJ Flow chart
Enlarged flow chart (jpg,160kb)
Flow chart in PDF format (pdf,100kb)

CHANJ is guided by a Working Group of more than 100 natural resource managers, transportation planners, conservation professionals, and university researchers from over 40 different agencies. The combined expertise and commitment of all of these partners are needed to advance this effort at the local and statewide levels. We hope to add more and more partners as time goes on.

CHANJ has gleaned greatly from the ideas and experiences of other states, at least half of which have habitat connectivity projects of their own.


Hasse, J.E. and R.G. Lathrop. 2010. Changing Landscapes In the Garden State: Urban Growth and Open Space Loss In NJ 1986 thru 2007 (pdf, Rowan University). Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ U.S.A.

Widmann, R.H. 2004. Forests of the Garden State (pdf, USDA). United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service Resource Bulletin NE-163. Newtown Square, PA U.S.A.

Map of black bear movements
Wide-roaming animals like the Black Bear require big swaths of habitat with safe corridors for movement
Spotted salamander on yellow road stripes
A Spotted Salamander crosses a road to reach its breeding pool during a mass migration event.
Turtle close up
Slow-footed, late to mature, and strongly tied to a home range, turtles are among the most vulnerable animals to habitat fragmentation and roads.
Biologist exhibiting amphibian eggs
Biologist Brian Zarate holds a salamander egg mass while discussing an amphibian road-crossing project in Sussex Co.
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Department of Environmental Protection
P.O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: March 20, 2019