Legislation

The Pinelands National Reserve (PNR) was created by Congress under the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978. The PNR is the first National Reserve in the nation. The PNR encompasses approximately 1.1 million acres covering portions of seven counties and all or parts of 56 municipalities.

Click here to view the Pinelands Protection Act.

Today, with the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan, the region is protected in a manner that maintains its unique ecology while permitting compatible development.

Click here to view the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan.

The Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan Land Capability Map (shown at left) establishes nine land use management areas with goals, objectives, development intensities and permitted uses for each. These are implemented through local zoning which must conform with Pinelands land use standards. Below are generalized descriptions of each management area with permitted uses. The summaries below are intended only to serve as a guide and are subject to various local conditions and limitations.

Preservation Area District – 288,300 acres. This is the heart of the Pinelands environment and the most critical ecological region; a large, contiguous wilderness-like area of forest which supports diverse plant and animal communities and is home to many threatened and endangered species. No residential development, except for one-1 acre lots in designated infill areas (total 2,072 acres) and special “cultural housing” exceptions, on minimum 3.2 acre lots for property owned by families prior to 1979. Limited commercial uses in designated infill areas.

Special Agricultural Production Area – 40,300 acres. These are areas primarily used for berry agriculture and horticulture of native Pinelands plants. Only residential farm-related housing on 40 acres, and expansion of existing non-residential uses permitted.

Forest Area – 245,500 acres. Similar to the Preservation Area District in terms of ecological value; this is a largely undeveloped area which is an essential element of the Pinelands environment. It contains high quality water resources and wetlands and provides suitable habitat for many threatened and endangered species. Permitted residential densities average one home for every 28 acres.

Agricultural Production Area – 68,500 acres. These are areas of active agricultural use, generally upland field agriculture and row crops, including adjacent areas with soils suitable for expansion of agricultural operations. Farm-related housing on 10 acres and non-farm housing on 40 acres are allowed. Permitted non-residential uses are agricultural commercial and roadside retail within 300 feet of preexisting commercial uses.

Rural Development Area – 112,500 acres. This is a transitional area that balances environmental and development values between conservation and growth areas. Limited, low-density residential development and roadside retail is permitted. Residential densities average one home for every five acres.

Military and Federal Installation Area – 46,000 acres. Federal enclaves within the Pinelands. Permitted uses are those associated with function of the installation or other public purpose uses.

Pinelands Villages – 24,200 acres. 47 small, existing, spatially discrete settlements which are appropriate for infill residential, commercial and industrial development compatible with their existing character. Residential development is permitted on minimum 1-acre lots if not sewered.

Pinelands Towns – 21,500 acres. Six large, existing spatially discrete settlements. Residential development is permitted on minimum 1-acre lots if not sewered and 2 to 4 homes per acre with sewers. Commercial and industrial uses are also permitted.

Regional Growth Area – 77,200 acres. These are areas of existing growth and adjacent lands capable of accommodating regional growth influences while protecting the essential character and environment of the Pinelands. Residential development of approximately 3 homes per acre with sewers. Commercial and industrial uses are permitted.