The state of Florida includes an incredible variety of habitats, including the tropical coral reefs of the Florida Keys, the unique Everglades, temperate hardwood forests, majestic rivers that meander for hundreds of miles, awe-inspiring springs, and nearly 8,000 lakes. These highly productive ecosystems support fishing and hunting, nature viewing, and other recreational and commercial activities.
State Wildlife Action Plan
A comprehensive, statewide plan for conserving the state's wildlife and vital natural areas for future generations. It outlines what native wildlife and habitats are in need, why they are in need and, most importantly, what we are going to do about it. Some of the habitats included are: Hard Bottom, Tidal Flat, Natural Lake, Cypress Swamp and Scrub.
Landowner Assistance and Incentive Programs
Over half of Florida is privately owned. The land-use planning efforts and habitat management decisions made by private landowners today will determine the future for fish and wildlife tomorrow.
An artificial reef may be described as one or more objects of natural or human origin deployed purposefully on the seafloor to influence physical, biological, or socioeconomic processes related to living marine organisms. The more than 2,400 carefully planned artificial reefs constructed in state and adjacent federal waters off both Florida coasts have been built to provide recreational fishing and diving enhancement, a socio-economic benefit to adjacent coastal communities, and to increase structural habitat for reef associated or reef dependent fishes and invertebrates.
Coral reefs can be described as the rain forests of the sea. One census found 3,467 species of algae, plants, and animals associated with coral reefs. Protection and wise use of Florida's coral reef habitat is our primary concern. The long-term Coral Monitoring Project (CRMP) is the most comprehensive coral assessment program ever established in the Florida Keys.
Conservation and restoration of seagrass is the primary focus of program staff in aquatic vegetation. Seagrass research helps supply resource managers with the data necessary to make effective decisions about the preservation, management, and restoration of these communities.
Managing wetland habitat is critical to providing the greatest quantity and highest quality of habitat possible to support Florida's waterfowl and other wetland-dependent wildlife.
Habitat Management Programs
Invasive Plant Management
The Invasive Plant Management Section within the Division of Habitat and Species Conservation of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is the lead agency in Florida responsible for coordinating and funding two statewide programs controlling invasive aquatic and upland plants on public conservation lands and waterways throughout the state. Florida's aquatic plant management program is one of the oldest invasive species removal programs with its beginnings dating back to the late 1800s. With the addition of the upland program, the section oversees the largest invasive plant management program of its kind in the United States. The section also insures that beneficial native aquatic plants in Florida's ponds, lakes, and rivers are protected through its permitting programs.
Management Plans & Planning
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has a management interest in approximately 5 million acres of natural resource land in Florida. Lands within the FWC managed-areas system are comprised of both private lands (especially timber companies) and those under the jurisdiction of various government agencies including the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Defense, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Water Management Districts, the Florida Forest Service, Florida Department of Military Affairs, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Recreation and Parks.
Fish Management Areas
A fish management area (FMA) is a pond, lake or other body of water established for the management of freshwater fish as a cooperative effort with the local county. The FWC's Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management manages more than 100 water bodies throughout the state that are designated as Fish Management Areas.
Objective-based Vegetation Management (OBVM)
The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), has lead management responsibility for approximately 1.5 million acres on 42 Wildlife Management and Wildlife Environmental Areas (WMA/WEAs) in Florida. FWC land managers, in cooperation with the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI), have developed and are implementing an objective-based vegetation management (OBVM) approach to resource management on these Trustee-owned lands.
Freshwater Pond Management
Florida has more than 7,700 named lakes over 20 acres and countless ponds from 1-20 acres. Many of those smaller ponds are on private property. Such ponds, if properly managed can provide wonderful, fishing, birding and wildlife viewing opportunities. However, the management of the ponds should take into account important conservation principles to prevent doing more harm than good.