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What is Woodland Conservation?
Woodland conservation means the retention of priority woodland areas for the benefit of the community. Priority woodlands are those tree stands identified through a planning process to have special qualities warranting preservation. For example, unusual or old growth stands, habitats for rare or endangered plants or animals, or aquifer recharge areas may warrant special attention and priority protection. Each community must go through a planning process to determine what resources they would like to see protected.
Why Woodland Conservation?
Between 1972 and 1995, Hunterdon County lost 20 percent of its upland forests. This does not even include any forested wetlands. Trees - especially contiguous woodlands - serve critical public and environmental needs, including stormwater management, erosion control, groundwater recharge and threatened and endangered species habitat. They reduce noise pollution, filter water, conserve energy and provide aesthetic value. Trees and woodlands can be a financial benefit to communities, landowners and builders alike, creating a win-win situation for everyone.
Planning for Woodland Conservation
A municipal woodland conservation program begins with the master planning process. This in turn leads to a set of land development regulations that address woodland conservation in a fair, predictable, objective way. Public involvement both in the development of a master plan and land development regulations is absolutely essential. Residents – including homeowners, farmers and even builders – all have a stake in every planning decision a municipality makes. All should have a say in the planning process.