Addressing the Impacts of Overabundant Deer and Invasive Plant Species

in Northern New Jersey: Strategies for Forest Restoration
by Dr. Jay Kelly,
Professor of Biology and Environmental Science at Raritan Valley Community College

Overabundant deer and invasive plant species are profoundly altering the characteristics of forests in central-northern NJ and present major priorities and challenges for forest restoration in the future. This presentation will share the results of current research on the changes taking place in our forests and the effectiveness of different approaches being taken to address them. The benefits, limitations and potential pitfalls of tools such as prescribed burning, native plantings, deer exclosures, and hunting programs at improving forest conditions over time will be discussed.  

Bio: Jay F. Kelly, Ph.D. is a Professor of Biology and Environmental Science at Raritan Valley Community College and co-Director of its Center for Environmental Studies. He is a native of central NJ and holds a BA in Biology and a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from Rutgers University. For the past fifteen years, Dr. Kelly and his students have conducted extensive research on rare plant biology and conservation in ecosystems across NJ and the mid-Atlantic region. A major focus of this work in recent years has been documenting the impacts of deer, invasive species, and other factors on forests in central and northern NJ, and the effectiveness of different tools for addressing them. Having collected both historical and present data from hundreds of forest plots, and infrared deer surveys on more than 100 sites in northern NJ, Dr. Kelly and his team have assembled some of the most comprehensive data available on the extent to which deer and invasive plants have changed our forests over time. They are also conducting ongoing research into the long-term responses of forests to different forest restoration strategies, including deer exclosures, hunting programs, prescribed burning and native plantings. More can be found about his research and educational activities at

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It starts off with an introduction to the NPSNJ and then proceeds to the presentation.