Conserving the Florida Wildlife Corridor could double protection of many state water resources, study finds

| Mar 17, 2023

Conserving the Florida Wildlife Corridor could double protection of many state water resources, study finds
Findings demonstrate the co-benefits of land protection and the ecological and economic importance of conserving 2.5 million acres of wetlands


March 17, 2023 – Gainesville, Fla. – A fully-connected Florida Wildlife Corridor could roughly double the permanent protection of many water resources critical to the state’s ecology and economy, according to a first-of-its-kind study led by the University of Florida Water Institute.

The report, commissioned by Archbold Biological Station and the Live Wildly Foundation, found that protecting the remaining 46% of the Corridor would help conserve critical aquatic and coastal ecosystems. This includes freshwater wetlands, rivers, springs and estuaries, which serve as habitat to at-risk species like storks, heron and manatees, as well as fulfill crucial ecosystem functions.

“While the Florida Wildlife Corridor was not designed specifically as a water-protection plan, our findings show that, if fully connected, the Corridor will provide many water benefits,” said Wendy Graham, director of the UF Water Institute. “We were particularly impressed by the level of protection land conservation offered wetlands and rivers. This shows the potential to develop a healthy surface water ecosystem throughout our state, and thus protect wildlife habitat, store carbon and preserve Florida’s nature.”

These ecosystems also contribute to fisheries, recreation and ecotourism, carbon sequestration, water supplies for drinking and agriculture, and flood protection. If allowed to be developed, resources in these opportunity areas will be degraded or lost.

“The findings from this research add even more value to protecting wetlands,” said Meredith Budd, director of external affairs at the Live Wildly Foundation. “Not only is a healthy, connected wetland ecosystem critical for wildlife, it also provides flood protection during storm events and plays a role in driving local economies through things like ecotourism and recreational use.“

Added Joshua Daskin, director of conservation at Archbold: “The Corridor will address many – but not all – of Florida’s water needs, so policymakers should also pursue strategies complementary to the Corridor. But it’s clear that protecting the remaining area would be a wise investment in Florida’s future.”

Archbold Biological Station
Archbold Biological Station is a not-for-profit independent ecological research institution in central Florida. Established in 1941, Archbold conducts long-term research on Florida ecosystems and sustainable agriculture, part of the global effort to understand, interpret and preserve the world’s natural heritage. Archbold is one of the core conservation partners that comprise Live Wildly, a statewide campaign to protect the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

University of Florida Water Institute
The University of Florida’s Water Institute addresses complex water issues through innovative interdisciplinary research, education and public outreach programs. Its faculty share affiliations across 12 UF colleges and study across a breadth of water-related topics.

Live Wildly Foundation
The Live Wildly Foundation helps to raise awareness and support for the full connection and protection of the Florida Wildlife Corridor and serves as a bridge-builder among the science, conservation, policy and business communities. The Foundation helps promote balanced economy and ecology through green infrastructure planning, investments in natural solutions and citizen advocacy.