We work to prevent the spread of emerging invasive species across New Jersey. We do this by harnessing
the stewardship potential of public and private land stewards to search for emerging invasive species, map locations where populations are detected and eradicate the invasive species that we find. We administer a data clearinghouse, prepare an annual catalog of invasive species present in and around our state, prioritize problem species, provide training for land stewards and property
owners, coordinate detection and eradication programs and share our experience with the public.
We have a small window of opportunity to stop the spread of an invasive species once it arrives in the Garden State. We utilize a methodology known as Early Detection and Rapid Response (ED/RR). ED/RR, which is recognized worldwide, requires a centralized organizing entity to coordinate the activities of public and private environmental stewards and other stakeholders. Our Strike Team, which was created in 2011 and is recognized as a non‐profit charitable organization by the IRS, provides this service and is the only entity specifically working to protect our state's natural heritage and economy from
the threats posed by invasive species.
Mapping, Data Analysis & Reporting: All data we gather is uploaded into our comprehensive database where it is mapped, analyzed & shared through our web site. We continually assess distribution & densities of target species, identify sources & trends of emerging infestations in order to preempt their spread, & provide alerts about species found in the mid‐Atlantic & New England in order to prevent their proliferation into New Jersey.
Outreach: Activities occur on many fronts & we tailor our message to each audience. Volunteer Ambassadors represent the Strike Team with a table‐top display at community events, we host invasive plant buy‐backs where citizens trade an invasive plant they dug from their garden for a coupon from a local nursery to replace it with a non‐invasive plant (we encourage voluntary restrictions on the use of invasive plants & hope that by addressing both the supply & demand for them, we will make significant progress in reducing their presence in cultivated landscapes), & we present programs to groups such as property managers, elected officials, garden clubs & civic associations. Our work with property managers & elected officials is designed to encourage & facilitate invasive species management. Public programs focus more on personal responsibility ‐‐ for example, we promote the use of native plants, encourage boaters & anglers to clean their equipment to stop the spread of aquatic hitchhikers & help trail enthusiasts understand how their boots can transport invasive plant seeds.
Training: We conduct both classroom & field sessions to teach participants to identify targeted species, properly record data about populations they detect & safely initiate control/eradication efforts.
Searching (Early Detection) & Eradication (Rapid Response): Our fundamental approach to the control of emerging invasive species involves harnessing the stewardship potential of public & private land stewards. Once a site has been searched, eradication activities are planned, taking into consideration the best management practices in place for each invasive species being targeted. When eradication is not fully possible, we work to contain the populations of each target species so that they will not spread.
Collaboration is Key
To achieve our long‐term goal of controlling emerging invasive species, we must recruit and support a permanent, robust and diverse group of public and private partners. The collaborations embodied by our Strike Team, including our alliances with funders, spur effective stewardship within New Jersey's conservation community and beyond its borders.
The Strike Team serves as the organizing entity to focus cooperative efforts among over 100 partners representing all levels of government, non‐profit conservation groups, consulting foresters and related businesses, as well as private individuals. Under the guidance of and with support from Strike Team leaders, partners search open space, report detections of emerging invasive species and initiate eradication efforts on the land they are responsible for managing. Our shared‐services
model, which incorporates Strike Team staff, partners, private landowners and volunteers, provides leverage to achieve far more than any one group could accomplish on its own.
We use the method of Early Detection & Rapid Response (ED/RR) to find & destroy new populations of invasive plants, animals & pathogens before they become widespread & cause significant ecological damage to our forests thereby preventing their negative impacts. We all know the serious impacts created by Japanese Barberry, Eurpoean gypsy moth & hemlock wooly adelgid & approximately 50 other widespread invasive species.
The problem continues to expand through the introduction of new invasive species & continuous changes to our climate & landscape. If left unchecked, these new invaders will assure that their already-significant impacts will become considerably worse in the future. Through cooperative efforts, we can thwart over 100 additional invasive species that threaten our state's forests, grasslands, ponds & streams.
The Stages of Invasion
We assign a code to each species based on the number of populations that have been documented in our state.
- A Stage O species has been detected here fewer than 10 times – some Stage O’s have not been detected in New Jersey, but they have been reported in nearby states so we need to be on the lookout for them.
- A Stage 1 species is quite rare – it has been detected in more than 10 locations but fewer than 100.
- A Stage 2 species has been detected in 101 to 500 locations.
- A Stage 3 species has been detected in 501 to 1,000 locations.
Our stages go from 0 to 3 – once a species has been found in more than 1,000 places, we consider it to be widespread.