We support Florida’s science-based land protection programs.
We work with scientists, policymakers, agencies and landowners to ensure that our highest-priority lands are identified and protected.
Florida is a leader in science-based conservation planning and conservation. We support the protection of lands that are critical for our water resources and our wildlife. Florida scientists have identified our highest ecological priorities for our biodiversity, wildlife corridors, and water quality. We work with University of Florida’s Center for Landscape Conservation Planning and other partners to develop science-driven conservation tools and maps to advocate for the protection of the lands most important for protecting these natural resources vital to Florida’s future.
Ranch and Timberlands within the Florida Ecological Greenways Network (FEGN)
The Florida Ecological Greenways Network (FEGN) identifies the most important wildlife corridors and large, intact landscapes in the state, and FEGN Priorities 1-3 are the top ranked wildlife corridors for protecting wildlife connectivity, habitat, and intact watersheds. Some of the FEGN is already protected, but much remains to be done. In the southern part of the state, the majority of the FEGN is in ranchlands, while in the northern half of Florida much of the FEGN consists of working silvicultural landscapes. The Florida Conservation Group is working with partners in these landscapes, including the University of Florida Center for Landscape Conservation Planning, to ensure funding for land conservation protection programs and use of the best science to identify and protect the lands most strategic for protecting wildlife corridors and other statewide conservation priorities.
Ranchlands within the Florida Ecological Greenways Network (FEGN)
In the southern part of the state, the majority of the FEGN is in ranchlands; protecting ranches is essential for protecting the FEGN in the southern half of Florida. Ranches protect habitat for a variety of wide-ranging species including the Florida panther and Florida black bear and ranchlands maintain a large connected regional landscape that is critical to our water resources and wildlife, but many ranches are also threatened by the rapid pace of urban and suburban development in south Florida.
Great Florida Prairie Region and Ranches
The Florida Prairie Region is a regional landscape that was dominated by a large dry prairie and wet prairie ecosystem with flatwoods, hammocks, scrub, marshes, and forested wetlands interspersed within them, and harbored many unique species found nowhere else or rarely in other parts of Florida including caracara, Florida burrowing owl, etc. This landscape also became the epicenter of first free range and then established ranches for cattle production, though ranching maintains similar grassland land cover and many of the species characteristic of the prairie landscape persist in the remaining open, vast grasslands of the region. However, conversion to other forms of agriculture, mining, or suburban/urban development would threaten these wildlife species and watershed functions of the Great Florida Prairie region.
Ranchlands impacted by Future Development in 2070
The state of Florida is one of the fastest growing in the nation, at approximately 1,000 people per day. Future development scenarios produced by the University of Florida show that southwest and south-central Florida ranchlands are particularly threatened by future development. The Florida Conservation Group is working assiduously to protect these landscapes and ranchland uses that are compatible with water resource and wildlife conservation goals before they are lost forever.
This map represents a Florida panther ecological connectivity model result that was created by our partners at University of Florida Center for Landscape Conservation Planning using the model Circuitscape designed to assess wildlife corridor potential. The areas of red and orange represent the landscapes with the greatest potential to support movement of Florida panthers across the southwest and south-central regions of Florida. These highest and high connectivity areas overlap significantly with the ranches most strategic for conservation. The partnership with UF enables us to focus our advocacy and protection efforts as strategically as possible for species like the Florida panther.
Wetlands and Floodplains
See wetlands and 100-year floodplains on ranches in southwest and south-central Florida. Ranches encompass wetlands and floodplains essential for hydrologic function and wildlife habitat in the Kissimmee River and Fisheating Creek (both part of the Everglades watershed), St. Johns River, Peace River, Myakka River, Caloosahatchee River, and Big Cypress watersheds. Protecting ranches is an essential part of Everglades restoration efforts, and Florida Conservation Group works with ranchers in the Greater Everglades and other south Florida watersheds on land protection, wetland restoration, and dispersed water storage projects that are critical for cleaning and protecting the water essential for people and wildlife.