FCC MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: NJ Highlands Coalition, NJ Forest Watch, Raritan Headwaters

Stop Cutting Down the Forest Billboard
Billboards like this are used to educate the public about the importance of protecting intact forests to fight climate change

Their Missions

The New Jersey Highlands Coalition (NJHC) represents a diverse network of local, regional, statewide, and national organizations as well as individuals. Their mission is to represent the common goal to protect, enhance, and restore the New Jersey Highlands and to preserve the quality and quantity of drinking water both for the 850,000 people in the Highlands as well as the more than five million people in surrounding areas who depend on Highlands water.

Raritan Headwaters’ (NJHC Member) mission is to protect water in their streams, rivers and homes. They engage more than 3,500 citizen scientists and volunteers to safeguard clean water and natural habitats. RHA is known as a leader in environmental education, advocacy, and outreach, and for water quality monitoring, ecological research, habitat restoration, land preservation and stewardship. www.raritanheadwaters.org

New Jersey Forest Watch’s (NJHC Member) mission is to protect and preserve NJ public forested lands statewide. They are a 501(c)(3) organization working to protect NJ’s Natural, Cultural and Historic Public Trust Resources. Their members include individuals who helped save tracts in the Sparta Mountains from development and helped to secure this High Conservation Value Forest greenway.

New Jersey Forests are an Important Part of the Climate Solution

Take an aerial tour of a Highlands core forested area–an improbable, intact, 260-square mile single forest–located in the more densely populated northern half of the state.

Despite its small size and most dense-in-the-nation population, New Jersey has about 2 million acres of forest—equally split between privately owned and public open space. Although not large enough to support a robust timber industry, the publicly owned forests of New Jersey are still subject to the forester’s vs ecologist’s battles, but for different reasons. With financial backing of the USDA and other interests, many foresters are getting access to otherwise protected, mature, stands of timber.

Claims to increase forest health by clear cutting in the State’s most mature, ecologically diverse forests, under the rubric of the “Young Forest Initiative” (a movement that argues logging is good for wildlife), or to provide habitat for a single, rare, forest edge bird that has probably moved out of state for good because of the warming climate, public land managers are allowing the extraction of the most valuable timber. It does not help that one of the leading proponents of the Young Forest Initiative and other questionable and exploitive practices is New Jersey Audubon, which has found a healthy income stream through writing and implementing Forest Stewardship Plans. Fortunately, other groups, such as NJHC, NJ Sierra Club, NJ Forest Watch, NJ Conservation Foundation, and Raritan Headwaters are pushing back. They have the attention of a powerful State Senator who chairs the Senate Environment & Energy Committee. He has convened a NJ Forestry Task Force (NJFTF) to scrutinize the current stewardship practices on public lands and to develop appropriate policies in response. The NJFTF will meet throughout the summer and fall and will issue a report to the NJ Legislature on recommendations for policies for managing NJ’s public forests, reporting on the areas they have found consensus, and listing those areas where consensus was not reached.

In January of this year, NJHC hosted the NJ Forest Forum where the formation of the NJFTF was announced. The Forum consisted of a series of presentations by NJ’s leading policy and science experts addressing the consequences of logging NJ’s public forests and promoting ecological restoration of the forests as an urgent response to the warming climate.

NJHC has a library of White Papers, and recent peer-reviewed studies that FCC members may find useful for their advocacy efforts. These papers and studies support ecological restoration-based forest stewardship and debunk many of the myths that promote the creation of young forests in most mature forest stands, and other aggressive forest management practices.

  • Policy Principles for successful stewardship of New Jersey’s public forests (NJ Highlands Coalition, Nov. 2021)
  • Carbon, Climate, and Forest Management: Key New Scientific Findings: Intact, Unfragmented, Unmanaged Forests Maximize Carbon Sequestration and Climate Resilience. (NJ Highlands Coalition, Dec. 2019)
  • Forest Science Literature: A collection of academic papers on the subject of climate change and forest management (NJ Highlands Coalition, Feb 2022)

To further understand the challenges NJHC and its members face in protecting New Jersey’s publicly owned forests, they produced a short video featuring some of the most knowledgeable policy and forest science/ecology advocates in the State.

New Jersey Audubon Society: The Nature Conspiracy at the State Level

Under the previous Governor’s administration, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish & Wildlife and their private partners (NJ Forestry Association, the NJ Audubon Society [NOT a chapter of National Audubon] and several other private interests), created plans to clear-cut our maturing, healthy forests on Sparta Mountain and other NJ state lands under the guise of “creating healthier forests,” for “habitat creation” and other purported “benefits.”  No public land, even areas purchased by their Green Acres taxes for conservation, are safe from these destructive plans. NJ Forest Watch has documented much of the irreparable ecological harm that timber harvesting has created on NJ public lands. Much like the FCC and its members, they are advocating for stronger public lands protections in order to maximize carbon storage and sequestration and to protect the biodiversity and ecological integrity of these maturing intact forests.


To support NJHC, sign up for their action alerts.

Support NJ Forest Watch by joining their email list by emailing njforestwatch@gmail.com.

Support Raritan Headwaters by signing up for their email list.