Division of Habitat & Species Conservation

Thomas H. Eason, Ph.D., Director
620 South Meridian Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600
850-488-3831

Mission: To ensure healthy populations of all native species and their habitats on a statewide basis.

Benefits

  • Manages aquatic habitat for marine, estuarine and freshwater systems to benefit the widest possible array of fish and wildlife.
  • Manages natural plant communities on public lands for diversity of wildlife species while providing quality recreational experiences.
  • Acquires land to provide habitat for a diversity of species.
  • Provides scientific support and assistance for habitat-related issues to private and public sector landowners, including local, state and federal governments, to inform and influence land- and water-use decisions affecting wildlife habitat management.
  • Develops and implements species management plans that serve as conservation blueprints for managing threatened species and implements conservation programs that are designed to maintain Florida's unique wildlife diversity.
  • Coordinates nonnative species management and research to protect native species in Florida, focusing on prevention, early detection and rapid response to introductions of nonnatives.
  • Implements conservation programs for manatees, Florida panthers and sea turtles to increase populations of these imperiled species.
  • Directs, regulates and funds the control of invasive plants on public conservation lands and in public water bodies for the protection of native plant and animal life, human health, safety, recreation and property.

The Division of Habitat and Species Conservation (HSC) integrates scientific data with applied habitat management to maintain stable or increasing populations of fish and wildlife. Integration efforts focus on the ecosystem or landscape scale to provide the greatest benefits to the widest possible array of fish and wildlife species.  Accomplishing this mission requires extensive collaboration and partnering with local, state and federal agencies to maintain diverse and healthy fish and wildlife populations for the benefit of all Floridians and visitors. Doing so provides direct ecological, economic, aesthetic, scientific and recreational benefits.

Habitat & Species Conservation sections

Wildlife and Habitat Management

Florida has one of the nation's largest systems of state-managed wildlife lands. The Wildlife Management Area program includes 5.8 million acres. Wildlife and Habitat Management is the FWC's lead manager on 1.4 million acres and coordinates management on another 4.4 million acres. This section's activities benefit plant and animal populations as it acquires land, develops site-specific land-management plans, guides managers in sound land-management practices and supports quality, wildlife-based public use, including a variety of hunting opportunities on managed lands. Additionally, the Wildlife and Habitat Management section restores degraded plant and wildlife communities and acquires new land that provides vital additions and linkages or conserves imperiled wildlife.

Habitat management programs use prescribed burns on fire-dependent plant communities, and chemical and mechanical vegetation treatments to control exotic or invasive plant infestations. These treatments restore ground cover and hydrologic conditions on altered landscapes to conserve wildlife and enhance critical habitat. The section develops and tests techniques to recover high-risk populations. It monitors programs to detect trends in the status and populations of imperiled species.

Aquatic Habitat Conservation and Restoration

This section uses a multidisciplinary approach to develop and implement comprehensive management programs to improve the ecological health of freshwater, estuarine and marine habitats. Its primary focus is identifying high-priority water bodies and implementing a variety of management treatments to maintain quality habitat for wetland-dependent fish and wildlife. Working with other agencies and user groups, this section builds cooperative relationships to address various issues affecting aquatic resources, including nutrient enrichment, water-use policy, and protection of rare and imperiled fish and wildlife.

Conservation Planning Services

Working with private and public sector landowners, this section develops and helps implement comprehensive, habitat-based management plans and incentive programs for landowners. Conservation Planning Services also provides managers of publicly owned lands with technical assistance to implement land-use plans that reduce negative impacts on fish and wildlife. This section uses scientific data to review and comment on FWC-regulated activities that may affect wildlife habitat.

Species Conservation Planning

Conserving Florida’s native wildlife diversity is the mission of this section. It develops and implements high-priority conservation activities for native wildlife, with an emphasis on threatened species. Partnerships with other governmental agencies (local, state and federal), nongovernmental organizations and individuals help achieve conservation goals for wildlife. This section manages most of the state’s threatened species and coordinates activities relating to Florida’s listing process and permitting of human activities that may affect listed species. Examples of these efforts included creating a rule for wildlife and airport safety, working with stakeholders to finalize revised rules for managing threatened species, and revising guidelines for gopher tortoise permitting. In addition, this section continues development of the Coastal Wildlife Conservation Initiative and a shorebird partnership network called the Florida Shorebird Alliance.

Imperiled Species Management

This section is responsible for conservation of manatees, sea turtles, panthers and black bears through implementation of federal recovery plans and state management plans. The FWC is halfway through a key component of its Bear Management Plan, initiating seven bear management units, with input from stakeholders, to allow the agency to manage bears based on characteristics of both bears and people within defined geographic areas. Other key section tasks include development of rules and regulations that provide needed protections, providing technical assistance to local governments and other state agencies for planning purposes and permit reviews, and addressing human-wildlife conflicts. The section coordinates with the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute’s researchers to identify information needs that will assist in making management decisions. The section conducts outreach activities to encourage the public to become watchful stewards over Florida’s threatened species.

Exotic Species Coordination

This section works with the FWC’s Division of Law Enforcement’s Captive Wildlife staff to prevent nonnative species from harming native fish and wildlife and develop science-based regulations to prevent the release and establishment of nonnative species. Partnerships with other local, state and federal groups promote responsible pet ownership and increase awareness of the problems of introduced species, while also managing nonnative species present in Florida.

Invasive Plant Management

This section is responsible for directing, coordinating and funding two statewide programs controlling invasive upland plants on public conservation lands and invasive aquatic plants in public waterways. This section regulates, through a permitting program, projects for control of aquatic plants that do not meet the eligibility requirements for state funding. The FWC protects Florida’s native plant and wildlife diversity with controls to manage invasive plants on public lands and waterways, dissemination of information, public education efforts, contractual research, and surveillance of plant communities on public lands and waterways. This section’s goal is to protect native fish and wildlife habitat by reducing existing populations of invasive plants and preventing new invasive plant populations from becoming established.

HSC budget summary

Funding Source FTE FTE salaries Other costs
IPCTF   $2,271,692 $37,317,602
FGTF   $3,754,109 $20,397,826
FPRMTF   $233,411 $382,697
GDTF   $0 $1,014,174
LATF   $493,729 $3,266,488
MRCTF   $581,705 $666,892
NWTF   $1,826,820 $2,119,499
STMTF   $868,284 $552,277
SGTF   $5,864,152 $14,063,602
CARLTF   $5,673,571 $3,594,924
Total operating   $21,567,473 $83,375,981
     
Fixed capital outlay    
WMA Land Improvements $0 $2,000,000
Lake Apopka Restoration $0 $3,000,000
WMA Storage Facility $0 $550,000
     
Total budget 361.0 $21,567,473 $88,925,981

Glossary of funding sources



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