Division of Habitat & Species Conservation

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

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


  • 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.
  • Works in partnership with landowners to provide for a diversity of species.
  • Provides 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 imperiled species such as 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 and 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: 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.  

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. A draft Imperiled Species Management Plan (ISMP) has been released to conserve 57 species currently listed as state-threatened or species of special concern. The ISMP combines specific species action plans with broader integrated conservation strategies benefiting multiple species. This section also continues development and implementation of the Coastal Wildlife Conservation Initiative, the Florida Shorebird Alliance, the Gopher Tortoise Management Plan, wildlife permitting and incentive-based conservation. 

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. Staff in the programs with federally listed species work closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on management and recovery tasks. The Bear Management Program has initiated several tasks from the 2012 state Bear Management Plan, including setting up seven Bear Stakeholder Groups throughout the state. These Bear Stakeholder Groups provide the agency input on how they think bears should be managed in their geographic regions in proximity to the various bear sub-populations. 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.

Wildlife Impact Management

This section, recently renamed and reorganized, is the organizational home of two programs addressing human-wildlife interactions and managing the impact of native and nonnative fish and wildlife species. The role of the FWC’s wildlife assistance biologists is to assist the public with nuisance wildlife and conflict issues regarding many species, including coyote and bear, through education, outreach and technical assistance. Staff working with the nonnative fish and wildlife program are working with local, state and federal partners to manage invasive species in Florida, including Burmese pythons and tegus. The section works with staff in the FWC’s Division of Law Enforcement’s Captive Wildlife and Investigations Sections to prevent nonnative species from harming native fish and wildlife and develop science-based regulations to prevent the release and establishment of nonnative species. The section also partners with other agencies to promote responsible pet ownership of nonnative wildlife and increase awareness of the problems associated with introduced species.

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. It 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 through the management of 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.

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. New best-management practices for conserving wildlife on private lands used for agriculture or commercial forestry have been developed in partnership with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. 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 coordinates the agency’s review of, and comments on growth management and regulated land- and water-use project proposals that have potential to impact Florida’s fish, wildlife and habitat resources. It uses scientific data to review and comment on FWC-regulated activities that may affect wildlife habitat. 


HSC budget summary

Funding Source FTE FTE salaries Other costs
IPCTF   $2,277,261 $6,179,037
FGTF   $3,964,733  $20,399,116
FPRMTF   $233,983 $383,310
GDTF   $494,942 $4,691,143
LATF   $7,861,819 $57,028,829
MRCTF   $583,135 $667,522
NWTF   $1,831,304 $2,017,350
STMTF   $870,417 $552,442
SGTF   $3,704,230 $2,735,729
Total operating   $21,821,824 $94,654,478
Fixed capital outlay    
WMA Land Improvements $0 $1,500,000
NFWF Deepwater Horizon $0 $2,958,300
Total budget 364.0 $21,821,824 $99,112,778

Glossary of funding sources

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