New Jersey Pinelands Reserve

New Jersey Pinelands Reserve



Principle: Preserve Open Space, Farmland, Natural Beauty, and Critical Environmental Areas

In a nutshell: New Jersey has the highest population density of any state: almost 1,200 persons per square mile in 2010.  Even so, about one million acres are designated for preservation and protection in the New Jersey Pinelands.

In 1978 the U.S. Congress recognized the Pinelands’ significant ecological, natural, cultural, recreational, educational, agricultural and health benefits and created the 1.1 million acre New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve, which includes all or parts of seven counties and 53 municipalities. According to the Pinelands Commission website, the Pinelands is home to “dozens of rare plant and animal species and the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system, which contains an estimated 17 trillion gallons of water.” Through this designation, the federal government provided New Jersey with technical and financial assistance to create the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan, which guides land use, development and natural resources protection.

Created by the state in 1979, the New Jersey Pinelands Commission implements the Comprehensive Management Plan and reviews and certifies all municipal master plans, zoning codes and land use ordinances to ensure consistency with the plan.

The Pinelands is divided into nine management areas, some of which are designated as development rights “sending” areas, meaning landowners can sell (or “transfer”) their development rights to “receiving” areas, which are located in twenty-two municipalities. Each Pineland Development Credit (PDC) transfers the right to build four houses and can be bought and sold in 1/4 (1 right) increments. PDCs can be transferred privately or through the publicly chartered Pinelands Development Credit Bank. While developers buy most PDCs, the state also can buy and retire PDCs.

Why we like it:

As of June 2015, nearly half of the Pinelands Area had been permanently protected, with 94% of the protected land located in the targeted conservation areas that the Commission is charged with preserving and enhancing.

The Pinelands contains invaluable natural resources and is being preserved en masse through a partnership of federal, state and local governments, as well as farmland preservation programs and non-profit organizations.  Landowners can realize the equity in their land, without having to develop, through a combination of easement acquisition and transfer of development rights programs.

Conservation of the Pinelands allows the agricultural industry to thrive, with major sectors including vegetable farming, fruit orchards, winemaking and horticulture. New Jersey ranks 3rd and 6th in the nation for cranberry and blueberry production, and virtually all of which is based in the Pinelands.

For more information:

Comprehensive Management Plan

State of New Jersey Pinelands Commission

Pinelands Facts

Pinelands Preservation Alliance

New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve


New Jersey Conservation Foundation won the 2011 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award in the Healthy Ecosystems category for restoring 1,100 acres of abandoned cranberry bog in the Pine Barrens into natural wetlands.

Preserved Lands Map: