The Sourlands has the greatest block of contiguous forest habitat in the State’s Piedmont province. Available biological data and pertinent scientific and historic literature highlight the unique attributes that make the Sourlands so important as habitat, including:
- The Sourland region contains a variety of high quality habitat types of substantial size, ranging from grassland to mature woodland and including a continuum of successional stages. This variety of habitat types, in turn, supports a wide variety of biotic communities and of the animals dependent upon them.
- The Sourland region supports over one hundred species of breeding birds.
- The Sourland region is a critical stopover point for migrating birds along the Atlantic Flyway and is one of New Jersey’s top fall migration stopover sites. These sites are as essential for migrating songbirds as their breeding and wintering habitats.
- Vernal pools and isolated wetlands are common in the Sourland region and are critical breeding sites for a number of herptiles.
- The Sourland region is the last refuge in central New Jersey for several complex plant communities that once flourished in central New Jersey. Sixteen plant species that are listed by the state as being either endangered or of special concern have been documented in the Sourland region.
- Headwaters of many regional streams originate in the Sourlands and provide riparian and aquatic habitat.
- The Sourland region has a rich and diverse human history that spans from the earliest Lenape settlements to the Revolutionary War and on into the twentieth century.
Geologic conditions caused the Sourland region to be largely avoided by European settlers throughout American history but new technologies, developed after World War II, have it made it increasingly possible for residential development to occur there. As development continues to be directed away from farmland and other fragile ecological areas like the Highlands to the north and the Pinelands to the south, increasing pressure has mounted to develop the relatively small but fragile Sourland area. Its need for protection is clear.
This Strategic Plan is prepared as a guide to the Sourland Conservancy for actions that will allow us to provide the greatly needed protection.