Conserving Florida’s Wildlife
From panthers to Panhandle lilies, Florida is home to a stunning array of native animals and plants. You can help us provide them with lasting protection.
“Biological diversity” describes the full array of plants, animals and natural communities (habitats) that make up life on Earth. There are myriad reasons why protecting species and habitats is critical to human welfare, from ensuring survival of watersheds that provide clean drinking water to maintaining healthy fisheries. Compounds found in plants and animals have hundreds of practical uses in agriculture, chemistry and medicine. Allowing a species to go extinct is like burning a book without reading it. Once gone, a plant or animal is gone forever.
Florida supports an extraordinary diversity of animals and plants. Its 900+ species of freshwater fish and land vertebrates, an even larger number of invertebrates, saltwater fish, and other marine animals make it one of the most biologically rich states in the country.
This wildlife, in turn, depends on the equally rich variety of Florida’s habitats, from relict Appalachian plant communities in temperate north Florida to West Indian tropical forests and coral reefs in the south.
Particularly famous are our “charismatic megafauna” — the American alligator, West Indian manatee, and Florida panther among them. We have 490 species of native birds, from roseate spoonbills, limpkins and caracaras to painted buntings, bald eagles and ospreys. Birdwatching contributes $450 million annually to the state economy while recreational fishing is bigger still, adding a staggering $8 billion a year to the Florida economy.
The Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida is committed to ensuring the lasting conservation of the Sunshine State’s biological diversity. We work closely with FWC and others to protect the full array of native species and habitats. In recent months, our Foundation has
- Launched a rare plant conservation endowment in cooperation with botanists across Florida (click here to donate)
- Funded startup of 16 newly designated state Critical Wildlife Areas for roosting herons, egrets, piping plovers, black skimmers and other shore and wading birds
- Funded captive breeding of Florida grasshopper sparrows and other globally imperiled species
- Provided funds for communities and homeowners to purchase bear-proof garbage cans to reduce bear-human interactions
- In cooperation with the Knopf Family Foundation, helped expand panther rehabilitation facilities at Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park and identify ways of reducing panther-car collisions on South Florida roads
- Funded startup of a rehabilitation center for orphaned Florida black bear cubs at Homosassa Springs State Park
- Underwrote research on restoration and management of many of Florida’s freshwater springs
- Funded enhanced monitoring of important Keys fish spawning aggregation sites, and
- Supported reintroduction of Eastern Indigo snakes on the Florida panhandle.
Some of these programs are funded via the “Protect Florida Springs” and “Conserve Wildlife” specialty license plates. For every plate sold, our Foundation receives $25 for wildlife and springs conservation. Please consider purchasing one of our plates.