“Being able to look at these forests and see that this is a direct result of climate change is frightening,” says Kristin Meistrell, director of the stewardship project for the New Jersey Audubon Society, which focuses on awareness and advocacy. environmental conservation. Meistrell has worked here for almost 10 years and remembers the walks she used to take on the property when she started in 2012, surrounded by living Atlantic white cedars. Since then, she has seen the forests disappear completely.
“I think that every community, every resident, every business must ask itself difficult questions. “
Shawn Latourette, Environmental Protection Commissioner of New Jersey
State and environmental groups are scrambling to restore cedar species to environments that are not as immediately threatened by impending storm surges. Foresters and environmental groups are largely focused on restoring forests to new homes, where they will not be affected by sea level rise. Groups have cleared large areas of land usually filled with other hardwoods. like maple, to allow the remaining healthy cedars to drop seeds naturally with sufficient space and access to sunlight. The New Jersey Audubon Society leverages farmers and hunters’ attachment to the land, working with them on their private property to develop forest stewardship plans to manage property for wildlife like these cedars.
“We are trying to put this type of forest back on the landscape,” said state forester John Sacco. “When we do this, we introduce biodiversity. There are suites of organisms present in this type of forest that are not really found in other forests. It increases biodiversity, contributes to resilience and is part of our natural heritage that we must conserve and pass on to the next generation.
It will take some time. A healthy cedar forest will take decades to develop, and they are catching up after losing more than 80 percent of forests to logging over the past two centuries.