Conserving Florida's Landscapes

 

Our projects stretch from the Florida panhandle to the Everglades and are guided by scientific research that identifies areas of highest priority.

 

Landscape-scale Conservation

What is landscape-scale conservation? There are many definitions of this complex trend in land conservation, but, at its heart, landscape-scale conservation is the practice of thinking big. Projects span entire regions – connecting large conservation properties together like a vast jigsaw puzzle. The interconnected properties are owned and managed by various people and agencies that collaborate to achieve specific objectives for that region. These large, protected and connected properties are at the heart of an ecosystem and are known as “conservation areas.” The Ocala National Forest is an excellent example of a conservation area that anchors surrounding protection efforts.

From the Panhandle to the Everglades, our landscape-scale projects are helping to shape Florida’s conservation future. Our projects go beyond state-level impacts and strive to protect some of the rarest ecosystems and plant and animal species in the world. The three ecosystems we currently focus on are the Panhandle Longleaf Pine, North Central Florida Forests, and the Everglades Headwaters.

 

Panhandle Longleaf Pine

The Florida Panhandle contains ecologically intact landscapes that include the largest remaining longleaf pine ecosystem in the world. It’s also home to large swaths of existing conservation areas including the Apalachicola National Forest, Blackwater River State Forest and Eglin Air Force Base.

Our active projects here total nearly 20,000 acres and, once completed, will protect large tracts of native longleaf pine forests, artesian springs, and coastal habitats. We are also working to expand a conservation corridor from Bald Point State Park to Tate’s Hell State Forest.

 

North Central Florida Forests

 

This area is home to the world's largest contiguous sand pine scrub ecosystem and more than 600 lakes, rivers, and springs, including three first-magnitude springs (the largest springs that discharge water at a rate of at least 2800 liters or 100 cubic feet of water per second). This region also contains the Ocala–St. Johns black bear subpopulation, which is one of the largest in Florida.

Our active projects in North Central Florida total over 116,200 acres and if successfully completed, they will contribute to the formation of a statewide conservation corridor, support healthy populations of native plants and wildlife, provide places to recreate and connect with nature, and help replenish and safeguard Florida’s freshwater supply. The Ocala National Forest is the center of this region and forms a forested area of more than one million acres. 

 

Everglades Headwaters

Also referred to as the Kissimmee River Basin, this region is the heartland of the Florida Peninsula. It is home to large cattle ranches and Florida dry and wet prairies. It is a critical ecosystem because it provides drinking water for eight million Floridians. It is also home to some of Florida’s rarest wildlife species, like the grasshopper sparrow.

Our current work to protect over 20,000 acres of family-run ranches will also protect imperiled habitats for wide-ranging species like the Florida panther. Protection of the land surrounding rivers, lakes and streams in the Kissimmee River basin is essential because it is the headwaters of the Greater Everglades. It is estimated that over 50% of all habitat used by panthers in this region is on private lands, yet most of the surrounding counties do not have a local land trust, making it one of the more underserved regions of the state.