Defenders in Florida
Florida Panther,  © SuperStock

Defenders in Action: Statewide Habitat Conservation

The Defenders of Wildlife Florida program is working for the conservation of a statewide ecological network that protects habitats and corridors. Our goal is to help ensure wildlife have access to the resources they need to roam, find shelter, forage, hunt, find mates and raise their young.

How We're Helping

  • Defenders is working for an expansion of the National Wildlife Refuge System in Florida. We support the Greater Everglades Partnership Initiative that will help conserve land, water and wildlife resources within approximately 4.5 million acres of natural lands and working ranches. The first of these refuges, the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area was established on January 17, 2012 in south-central Florida. The two other projects include a new refuge in the Fisheating Creek area and expansion of the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge.
  • More than half of Florida is privately owned, so the land-use planning efforts and habitat management decisions made by private landowners today will determine the future for wildlife tomorrow. Defenders is working with several large landowners in eastern Collier County on a habitat conservation plan for panthers and other species including the Florida scrub jay, American alligator and gopher tortoise.
  • We assist the Florida Wildlife Commission in developing the Cooperative Conservation Blueprint and its pilot projects in southwest and central Florida. The purpose of the blueprint is to help conserve vital natural resources areas and working landscapes through incentive based programs that maintain a sustainable economy and agriculture opportunities. Ultimately, this initiative will help guide future land-use planning decisions and recommend market-based incentives that encourage conservation.
  • We're working with agencies and private landowners to identify creative ways of securing protection of strategic tracts of land and water through acquisition, easements and incentives (e.g. Florida Panther Dispersal Zone; North Belle Meade). We advocate in the state legislature for the Florida Forever Act, the state land acquisition program, and funding to assure its continued effectiveness in saving Florida's natural assets.
  • Defenders is actively involved in county and regional planning to ensure that highways and commercial/residential developments do not fragment or destroy wildlife habitat. We also work to defeat poorly planned roads and developments and strive to increase safe passage for wildlife across roads (e.g. Roadside Animal Detection System in Big Cypress National Preserve, nighttime slow speed zone on Keri Road in Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest).

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