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The New Jersey Natural Heritage Program
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The New Jersey Natural Heritage Program is part of The Natural Heritage Network.

An Inventory of Biological Diversity

The New Jersey Natural Heritage Program identifies the state's most significant natural areas through a comprehensive inventory of rare plant and animal species and representative ecological communities. From the inventory, the Natural Heritage Database compiles information on the distribution, biology, status, and preservation needs of these species and communities. Established in 1984 through a cooperative agreement between The Nature Conservancy, a private conservation organization, and the Department of Environmental Protection, full administration of the program was assumed by the DEP in 1986.

The New Jersey Natural Heritage Program is part of an international network including State Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers, all building on the same data collection methodology. The Database is updated continuously and is used to set state, national, and global priorities for the preservation of natural diversity.

The Natural Heritage Database
The Natural Heritage Database is a continuously updated inventory of rare plants and animal species and representative ecological communities in New Jersey. It is the state's most comprehensive, centralized source of information on rare plants, animals, and natural communities. The Database is a compilation of information from a broad range of sources including museum and herbarium collection records, publications, knowledgeable experts, and fieldwork. It contains information collected by the Office of Natural Lands Management on rare plants, animals, and ecological communities as well as data on rare animals provided by the Endangered and Nongame Species Program. The Database is continuously updated and improved as new data is obtained. Information from this database is available to assist individuals in the preservation of habitat for rare species and ecological communities.

Information Available from the Database

  • Tracks the status of more than 1000 species of plant and animals and more than 50 ecological communities that are exemplary, rare, or imperiled at the state or global level.
  • Contains more than 11,000 records of locations for rare plants, animals, and ecological communities.
  • Offers detailed, centralized information to help make land-use decisions.
  • Includes officially listed endangered species from the Federal Endangered Species Act, the State Endangered Species Act, the State Endangered Plant Species List Act, the State Endangered and Nongame Wildlife Act, and additional rare species that have not been listed officially.
Land-Use Planning - Balancing Our Needs
As New Jersey continues to experience industrial and economic growth, it is imperative that we take steps to ensure that remaining areas of natural significance be preserved for their resource potential, their educational and research use, and their aesthetic and cultural values for present and future generations. As we become more aware of our dependence on our natural environment for our well-being and ultimate survival, we must answer one question: how can we best preserve our irreplaceable natural heritage?

The protection of New Jersey's natural heritage can be accomplished in harmony with older human concerns as long as planning accompanies growth. Information from the Database facilitates the sound evaluation of lands by ecological resources in the state and focusing on the most threatened significant natural areas.

Resource planners can save time and money by referring to the Database for comprehensive Natural Heritage data.

The Database can be used to help:

  • Prepare environmental impact assessments.
  • Identify the highest quality areas for natural diversity and those areas in most need of protection.
  • Supplement field surveys conducted to assess project impacts on natural diversity.
  • Plan government, commercial, and residential development.
  • Foresee potential problems related to development in specific areas before commitments are made by planners, developers, and government.
  • Minimize adverse impacts on the environment.
  • Avoid unnecessary conflicts and costs.

Very simply, the best decisions are made when the most information is available. In the past, the lack of this information severely hampered the decision-making process. By offering a scientific overview of New Jersey's natural assets, the Natural Heritage Database enables our citizens to chart the course of development wisely and well.

Making a Data Request

To request data, please email, mail or fax a written request stating your data needs and include a completed Natural Heritage Data Request Form with attachments. Include the following information:

  • Name and address of user or organization
  • Type of data needed
  • Copy of USGS quad with exact boundaries
  • Explanation of how the information will be used

Data requests are processed in the order in which they are received; please allow 30 days for response. Due to the number of attachments, we cannot fax results.  Unless you specifically request that your response be mailed or the response is unusually large, your response will be emailed to the address you provide. 

Fees: Fees are charged to cover the cost of providing data services. The hourly fee for Natural Heritage Data Review Services is $70. A bill will be sent with the request response and payment should be made by check or money order payable to "Office of Natural Lands Management." A fee estimate can be given prior to initiating a search. Send data requests to:

State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
Natural Heritage Data Request Form
The New Jersey Natural Heritage Program
DEP - Office of Natural Lands Management
Mail Code 501-04
P.O. Box 420
501 E. State Street
Station Plaza #5, 4th Floor
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0420
Phone No. (609) 984-1339
Fax No.: (609) 984-1427

Contributing Data
The people of New Jersey are the caretakers of their state's natural heritage. Everyone's support is needed to safeguard our treasury of natural lands and the life they harbor for future generations.

The New Jersey Natural Heritage Program must rely on information from a wide variety of sources to develop and sustain its ongoing inventory. Perhaps you can provide such information. Do you know the location of an exemplary undisturbed ecological community? Do you know of habitat for an endangered species? If so, contact the Natural Heritage Program. The information will be reviewed and those reports documenting significant habitat will be incorporated into the Natural Heritage Database. Rare Species reporting form and lists of rare species can be obtained from this home page.

Affiliated Agencies
Parent Agencies:
The New Jersey Natural Heritage Program works in concert with a number of agencies that are focused on the conservation of New Jersey's biological diversity. It is part of the state's Office of Natural Lands Management, an agency that administers a group of interrelated management and planning programs that focus on habitat protection and passive recreation. This office is part of the Division of Parks and Forestry which has management responsibility for New Jersey's state parks and forests.

The Division of Parks and Forestry is part of the Natural and Historic Resources Group in the Department of Environmental Protection. The department is a cabinet level agency that administers programs focused on preserving, sustaining, protecting and enhancing the environment to ensure the integration of high environmental quality, public health and economic vitality for the people of the state.

Partner Agencies:
Within the Department's Natural and Historic Resources Group, the Office of Natural Lands Management has developed a partnership with the Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife's Endangered and Nongame Species Program, which surveys, regulates, and manages the state's endangered and nongame animal species. The Endangered and Nongame Species Program contributes information on rare animal species to the Natural Heritage Database. It has primary responsibility for review of rare animal species information prior to entry into the Natural Heritage Database.

The Office of Natural Lands Management also has developed a partnership with the New Jersey Field Office of the Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy, through its New Jersey Field Office, works to conserve New Jersey's plants, animals and natural communities by protecting the lands and waters they depend upon. The Nature Conservancy developed the award winning BCD software in which the NJ Natural Heritage Database is housed. The NJ Field Office focuses its protection efforts on priority sites for biodiversity identified by the Natural Heritage Database. Information on the protection status of priority sites is regularly shared between the Natural Heritage Program and the Field Office.

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Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2018
Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: June 3, 2021

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