Flat Rock Brook kicked off its Guest Speaker Series with a presentation by Dr. Jay F. Kelly, Ph.D. titled “Assessing Forest Health in Central New Jersey: Effects of Deer and Invasive Plant Species”. Dr. Kelly discussed ongoing work involving deer management at Flat Rock Brook and his work studying and monitoring the effects of deer overpopulation on forest health in New Jersey. He spoke about the impact on local wildlife populations, including breeding bird populations.
The program offered an opportunity to better understand Flat Rock Brook’s decision to erect permanent deer fencing with a goal of improving forest health and regeneration. For those that were unable to attend, or would simply like to learn more, you can find a copy of the presentation here.
Flat Rock Brook wishes to recognize SUEZ for its generous sponsorship of our series.
Flat Rock Brook Nature Center’s forest has experienced extensive habitat degradation caused by the overpopulation of deer feeding on native tree seedlings and saplings. Overgrazing deer prevent the forest from naturally regenerating. The shrub layer disappears, leaving a barren understory that is no longer able to function as habitat for wildlife. This problem, combined with the rapid spread of non-native plants, or invasive species, is compromising the overall health and biodiversity of our forest. This has become a serious threat to forests across the state of New Jersey.
Our Board of Trustees and staff began discussing deer management options several years ago. After careful research and consultation with authorities that weighed various solutions, it was decided that a deer exclosure would be the most effective resolution. Creating deer exclosures on the preserve offers the most sustainable and effective method for long-term forest health and regeneration. The fencing in of crucial habitat within our preserve will give the forest understory a chance to regenerate and rebound after years of extensive damage. Native plant communities will return, biodiversity will increase and viable wildlife habitat will become more readily available.