Florida's natural lands and waters are at the core of our state's prosperity, bringing billions of dollars in economic benefits to our state every year.
Our forests, rivers and creeks, and coastal waters are invaluable to fish and wildlife, and to our own quality of life.
But recent predictions indicate that our state's human population may double to 36 million in the next 50 years. If that happens, as a study published by 1000 Friends of Florida suggests, about 7 million acres of land could be converted from rural and natural to urban uses (see maps). If we develop as we have in the past, roads, shopping malls and subdivisions will replace the rich diversity our landscape currently offers. Development also will impact our coastal waters and coral reefs.
We have prepared this report to help you understand the changes that may occur in Florida's fish and wildlife and in our own lifestyles if the state's population doubles.
In the years to come, leaving the work of conservation and management to just a few won't be enough. We will need fresh, effective strategies, including smart growth initiatives and green infrastructure planning, to direct and shape the growth that is coming our way. By encouraging development that is economically sound, environmentally sensitive and community-friendly, instead of allowing haphazard sprawl, we can keep the Florida we love.
In the following pages, you will see predictions of what might come to pass and read stories about just a few of the many Floridians, both in the private sector and working for government, who have dedicated themselves to conserving our fish and wildlife resources.
What does the future hold for Florida's fish and wildlife? That's up to all of us.