Conservation of water and land provides numerous benefits to both natural ecosystems and human populations. In our Gems Report, we educate lawmakers and voters alike on the value of conservation. From providing wildlife habitat to preserving Florida’s heritage, we detail why conservation is so important and must be prioritized in the Capitol.
Here’s seven reasons conservation matters:
1. Protection Lands = Protecting Water
Whether because of its proximity to the aquifer or as a buffer to other natural bodies of water, preserving lands provides added protection to water for both human consumption and recreation, as well as serving habitat needs. When we protect land, we protect the natural filtration it provides. As water travels from rain cloud to ground to aquifer, it is cleaned by natural systems like wetlands and estuaries.
2. Biodiversity and wildlife habitat
Our state is rich in a wide variety of plant and wildlife species. Biodiversity refers to how many different species occupy an ecosystem, and this diversity is important to ecosystem productivity and sustainability throughout the food chain. Conservation lands provide shelter, food sources, and migratory space to Florida’s native wildlife, from the smallest beach mouse to the largest black bears.
3. Places to play
Who doesn’t love a day at their favorite park? Public lands, including parks and preserves, offer amenities such as trails, education centers, campsites, boating access, picnic areas, and other recreational activity space. Parks are good for our health. Our award-winning state parks offer accessible outdoor experiences and by adding acreage to their boundaries, we widen the possibilities for both visitors and the ecosystems that are protected there.
4. Increasing resiliency
Climate change is the biggest threat we face today, and preserving land can help mitigate impacts like intensified storms and rising seas. Conservation lands like coastal and freshwater marshes serve as a buffer to storms and flooding. Estuaries hold excess water and their mangroves can slow wind speeds. On both land and water, plants and soil can store and sequester carbon. Soils can efficiently store large quantities of carbon dioxide. In turn, this carbon storage and sequestration — which varies depending on soil type — can boost soil health and fertility, decrease erosion, and allow lands to naturally reduce the impacts of droughts and floods.
5. Connecting wildlife corridors and communities
The more cohesive the conservation land, the more productive it is. Joining tracts of undeveloped lands improves habitat for wildlife, connects wildlife corridors for animals to travel, and makes land management more efficient. Often referred to as inholdings, state agencies prefer to purchase properties that are near currently managed properties so when they do prescribed burns or other maintenance, they can do one large area rather than fragmented segments. Connectivity also helps link up trails across the state, boosting recreation and transportation opportunities.
6. Preserving Florida history
Florida is rich in history, and preserving areas such as Native American mounds and Civil Rights sites provide essential education to visitors and residents alike. From heritage trails to preserved historic homes, Floridians can visit and learn from preserved sites from coast to coast. We learn great lessons from our past, and it is incredibly important to pass our heritage onto the next generation of Floridians.
7. Preserving agricultural heritage
Working lands provide essential areas for Florida wildlife and plant life. Some of our state’s most biodiverse areas can be found within sprawling ranches. Maintaining working landscapes also preserves the cultural and rural character of many communities. Agricultural conservation easements allow for efficient public-private partnerships with landowners and managers while saving these special places from development.
We created our Gems Report with these conservation values in mind. Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) assesses Florida Forever projects based on multiple resources, like those listed above. Using sound science, multi-agency efforts, and public-private partnerships, conservation advocates are helping to save Florida’s remaining natural lands. But to continue to save these places from the ever-increasing threat of development, the state legislature needs to fully fund Florida Forever.
You can play a part too by purchasing your Gems Report. When you purchase a report, you help FCV prioritize land and water conservation at the Capitol. Buy yours now!