Over 25,000 New Trees Planted in the Sourlands

The Sourland Conservancy (SC) has announced that their staff, community partners, and volunteers have planted another 10,000 trees in 2022. This brings their forest restoration project total to 25,200 planted in the last three years.

Rob Aluck, the Conservancy’s stewardship director says, “We are tremendously grateful for the support of the entire community. Nonprofit organizations, land trusts, counties, municipalities, private residents, volunteers, and donors are all working together to restore the forest and reduce the impact of ash decline.”

The SC is a small nonprofit based in Hopewell and Skillman. Their mission is to protect, promote, and preserve the unique character of the Sourland Mountain Region of Central New Jersey. The Sourland Region straddles Hunterdon, Somerset, and Mercer counties. 

The New Jersey Forest Service has estimated that the 90-square-mile region is on track to lose over one million trees due to an invasive insect, the emerald ash borer. That number represents approximately 20 percent of all trees throughout the region. The loss of one million trees has the potential to elevate the impacts of climate change and could result in more serious flooding. It also bodes negatively for the region’s air quality and plant and wildlife health.

“The Sourland forest’s understory is already degraded due in large part to the overpopulation of white-tailed deer,” said Executive Director Laurie Cleveland. “We need to plant quickly to discourage the spread of invasive plants, and we must protect each sapling from deer browse using fencing or tree tubes.”

The Conservancy’s forest restoration project incorporates a multi-pronged approach: engaging volunteers in planting events at public parks and preserves, hiring seasonal interns to plant in areas that are not conducive to large groups (like sensitive species habitat and interior forests), selling “tree kits” at the annual native plant sales, and creating educational materials that encourage residents to plant at home.

For more information on how to volunteer, donate, or get involved, visit www.sourland.org.