Florida is one of the most species-rich states in the nation. With more than 80 different ecosystems, the state supports more than 100 species listed as endangered, threatened, or of special concern. Many rare species are found only in our state—like the Florida bonneted bat and the Florida scrub-jay. While it is difficult to quantify all the ways that Florida’s wildlife and their habitats enrich our quality of life, there are many tangible benefits to preserving strong and healthy ecosystems. Animal, plant, and marine biodiversity keeps ecosystems functional, which in turn allows us to thrive.
President Biden has laid out a ten-year goal of conserving 30% of the U.S. by 2030. The 30×30 plan is an inclusive and bold vision for safeguarding America’s lands, water, and wildlife that will support the efforts of people across the country, including rural communities, Tribal Nations, private landowners, and many others on the frontlines of conserving, stewarding, restoring, and enjoying nature.
Nature is in a state of collapse. We’re facing a mass extinction of plants and animals that keep our air clean, our water pure and our food supplies plentiful.
Failure to act urgently and expand land, water, and ocean protections will put over a million plants and animals at risk of extinction, many within decades. Right now, nearly 3 billion birds have disappeared in the U.S. and Canada since 1970 because of human activities. Nearly every corner of the ocean has been touched by human impact or extraction, with over 2⁄3 of the ocean significantly altered by human activity. On our current trajectory, we risk losing so much more.
Florida manatees are considered umbrella species because when we protect their habitat, we also ensure the survival of other fish and wildlife species.
One of the world’s rarest tree species, the Florida Torreya, grows in one of Florida’s rarest natural communities, along the bluffs and ravines of the Apalachicola River. Along with habitat loss, a deadly fungus is killing this imperiled species. Photo by Gary Knight.
Eastern indigo snake
The threatened eastern indigo snake is nonvenomous. They are known to eat other snakes and are mostly immune to rattlesnake venom so they can help control venomous populations.
Hawksbill sea turtle
Hawksbill sea turtles are endangered. Florida’s coast provide nesting habitat for five of the world’s seven species of sea turtles: hawksbill, green, leatherback, loggerhead, and Kemp’s Ridley.
The Scrub Lupine is a federally listed endangered species that resides within Central Florida. Once found in many scrub locations in Florida, much of this plant’s habitat has been lost to degradation and development. Photo by Kim Alexander.
Florida bonneted bat
The endangered Florida bonneted bat eat insects and only occur in a handful of counties in South Florida. Bonneted bat are Florida’s largest bat!
The threatened Florida scrub-jay is an amicable, endemic species to Florida. Endemic species are those that only live in specific areas and occur nowhere else in the world.
Florida Bristle Fern
The federally endangered Florida Bristle Fern grows in small mats in South Florida hammocks. This species is nearly extinct due to development and faces the impending threat of habitat loss due to sea level rise. Photo by Keith Bradley.
Gopher tortoise are a keystone species. Their burrows provide habitat for hundreds of other species, including snakes, amphibians, insects, and rodents. They are designated as threatened.
Florida panther need a wide range of conserved land to hunt and breed. Florida’s state animal has made an incredible comeback since its near-extinction in the 1990s.