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Saving the Florida Scrub Ecosystem

Science and Serendipity

Hilary M. Swain and Patricia A. Martin

Junio 2012, inglés

The Florida scrub, ranked as the 15th most endangered ecosystem in the nation, with one of the highest densities of rare, endemic species in the world, came perilously close to extirpation. One of the finest examples of this habitat, the ancient scrub of the Lake Wales Ridge in central Florida, has been rescued from oblivion largely by the strong partnership forged between an internationally recognized not-for-profit research institution, Archbold Biological Station, and the global conservation organization, The Nature Conservancy. Scientists and conservationists, drawing from decades of research, designed an ambitious plan to save the scrub. This drove a massive investment in land acquisition, more than $100M, by public agencies, particularly the state of Florida. The area of protected scrub has tripled, and the risk of extinction for many species has been reduced. The Lake Wales Ridge Ecosystem Working Group, an enduring alliance of scientists and conservation partners from 13 agencies and nonprofits coalesced and, over the last 20 years, provided the social capital and land management skills to sustain this conservation program. The challenge is to maintain conservation momentum in the decades ahead.