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Conservation Core Concepts

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Conservation Core Concepts are fundamental ideas in fish and wildlife conservation that are important for citizens to understand. The Core Concepts clearly state what every citizen should know about: 

  1.    Conservation of Florida’s fish and wildlife
  2.    Managing Florida’s fish and wildlife resources
  3.    Role of fish and wildlife agencies in conservation
  4.    Role of citizens in fish and wildlife conservation

Incorporating the Core Concepts into our education and outreach programs focuses and strengthens these efforts in Florida and the nation.

The FWC is the agency responsible for leading fish and wildlife resource management in Florida.
Key Message: Fish and wildlife resources are owned by no one and are held in trust by government for the benefit of present and future generations. FWC manages and protects these resources on our behalf for the benefit of all people and future generations.

Why this is important: In Florida as in all of North America, fish and wildlife are part of the public trust. This means that no one person or group of people “own” fish and wildlife, rather fish and wildlife are conserved to benefit society as a whole.  To conserve fish and wildlife for the public, we look to government agencies that manage these natural resources using the best available science and the involvement and support of the public. The FWC is empowered by Florida’s constitution to protect and manage Florida’s fish and wildlife on behalf of the public and future generations.

Regulations are sometimes necessary to conserve natural resources and allow for safe and sustainable human use of fish and wildlife.

Key Message: Regulations allow various groups to use or observe fish and wildlife in a fair manner that ensures healthy fish and wildlife populations for current and future generations.

Why this is important: Regulations for the harvest or use of fish and wildlife provide rules for fishers and hunters to follow when harvesting or interacting with these resources. These regulations are designed to provide sustainable use of these resources at healthy levels that include public input and maintain public safety when harvesting or observing fish and wildlife. Using harvest limits and other regulations when necessary for fish and wildlife allows managers to maintain a balance between the numbers of people and animals and the capacity of the environment to sustain the animals. Effective management results in a healthy, sustainable resource and limits such things as; human-wildlife conflict, property and environmental damage, and diseases that affect people and animals.

The health and well-being of fish, wildlife and humans depend on the quality and diversity of their environment.

Key Message: All living things benefit from a healthy and diverse environment.

Why this is important: A healthy environment with a diverse mix of species provides sustainability and maximizes fish, wildlife and human wellbeing. Ensuring that there is clean air, water and a diversity of connected green spaces and aquatic habitats maintains optimum human health as well as the health of Florida’s fish and wildlife populations. As FWC manages and maintains quality and diverse fish and wildlife habitats, human populations reap the benefit.

Fish and wildlife can be sustainably used, conserved and restored through science-informed management, which considers the needs of humans as well as those of fish and wildlife.

Key Message: Fish and wildlife conservation and management are solidly rooted in science and balance the needs of people with consideration for maintaining healthy populations of fish and wildlife, as well as their habitats.

Why this is important: The knowledge gained from scientific research helps guide management decisions that conserve and restore fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and for the benefit of people. The information gathered through scientific studies allows managers to assess how to strike a balance that considers human needs while ensuring diverse and sustainable fish and wildlife populations.

Fish and wildlife habitat conservation provides human health, recreation, aesthetic and economic benefit. Learn more about Core Concept 5.

Key Message: Healthy habitats provide humans with products, maintain our environmental cycles, enrich our wellbeing and maintain our basic needs.

Why this is important: People’s existence on Earth is inseparably linked to our environment. The environment provides our basic survival needs: air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat and the basic building blocks for production of goods. Humans also utilize the environment to provide recreation, appreciation through our senses, and a means to earn a living.

Informed, supportive and active citizens and partners with FWC are vital to sustaining Florida’s fish and wildlife. Learn more about

Key Message: The future of Florida’s fish and wildlife depends on citizens and partners working together with FWC. Fish and wildlife are shared resources and sustaining thriving populations depends on us all.

Why this is important: The success of fish and wildlife depends on strong public support and active participation.  It will take whole communities working together with FWC to sustain fish and wildlife. Conservation education and participation in fish and wildlife recreation fosters a conservation ethic and a willingness to act on behalf of our natural resources. FWC cannot accomplish this mission alone. Partners are essential to sustain Florida’s fish and wildlife.

Fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and boating are appropriate uses of Florida’s natural resources and participation in these activities contributes to fish and wildlife management.

Key Message: Citizens enjoy fish and wildlife recreational activities and have the right to lawfully engage in them. Fish and wildlife recreation can be sustainably managed and can contribute to management through revenue, harvest information and increased public support.

Why this is important: Societal acceptance of fishing and hunting in particular is essential to sustain these activities. It is important that the public know that fish and game are a healthy food source that fishers and hunters support species and habitat conservation through purchasing licenses and equipment and that humans function as top predators thereby keeping populations healthy. Hunters and fishers also provide essential information about species such as weight, location harvested, size, sexual development and genetic makeup. Participation in fish and wildlife recreation can lead to support of fish and wildlife conservation.

Participants in fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and boating must use safe practices, respect the rights and property of others and understand that fish and wildlife are a shared resource in order to sustain our fish and wildlife resources.

Key Message: Everyone has the opportunity to participate in fish and wildlife recreation. Along with that right comes responsibility and it is everyone’s responsibility to take care of fish, wildlife and their habitat.  Participants must follow safety guidelines to prevent injuries to themselves and others. Respecting the rights and property of others encourages and maintains public support for fish and wildlife recreation.

Why this is important: Without safe practices people can be injured or killed. Trespassing or damaging private property creates a negative impression of fish and wildlife recreation and can erode public support for these activities.  FWC, through its programs and employees, educates the public about legal and common sense responsibilities to encourage safe and sustainable practices. This education takes many forms, from classrooms and activity based outdoor programs to interaction with FWC law enforcement officers in the field.

Knowledge of and support for fish and wildlife funding sources is essential for continued research, management and conservation of these resources.

Key Message: FWC uses a variety of funding sources to manage Florida’s fish and wildlife resources for everyone. When Floridians buy licenses and permits, register their vehicles, buy and sell property they help support fish and wildlife conservation.

Why this is important: Without direct sale of licenses and permits FWC’s ability to manage and conserve fish and wildlife would be significantly reduced. Fish and wildlife management in Florida is funded in part through sale of hunting and fishing licenses, and federal excise taxes collected from the sale of equipment used for hunting, target shooting or fishing. Funding also comes from direct sale of permits, vessel registration fees, vehicle specialty tags, and taxes on imported pleasure boats and motor boat fuel. A large portion of FWC’s budget for research, conservation and management comes from a variety of other state and federal programs. 

Fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing, boating and other nature-based activities provide people with millions of days of outdoor recreation and generate more than 15 billion dollars for Florida’s economy each year(2011-12 Programs of the FWC).

Key Message: Florida’s year-round fish and wildlife recreational opportunities provide communities with economic benefits as well as contributing to human quality of life and improved conservation of natural areas.

Why this is important: As Florida’s population increases, it becomes critical to protect our remaining natural areas. Development of fish and wildlife recreation and tourism opportunities increase employment and provide socio-economic growth within local communities while protecting Florida’s unique natural areas. Research shows that participation in these activities leads to happier, healthier and smarter children and adults ( Local populations and nature-based tourists benefit from access to Florida’s wild areas, and local communities benefit from revenues generated by nature-based recreation and tourism.

Protecting, restoring and managing habitat is critical to managing and conserving Florida’s fish and wildlife.

Key Message: Habitat management, protection and restoration help sustain and conserve ecosystems and benefit Florida’s fish, wildlife and human populations.

Why this is important: Sustainable fish and wildlife populations depend on abundant and healthy habitat.  FWC employs a variety of habitat management strategies that include techniques such as prescribed fire, invasive species removal, lake draw-downs and vegetation replanting in order to restore or maintain essential habitats for fish and wildlife. Habitat management techniques are based on determining the relationships between habitat and fish and wildlife populations, and manipulating habitats and/or fish and wildlife populations to meet a specific goal.

Proactive and responsive FWC law enforcement services are necessary to protect Florida’s natural resources and its citizens.

Key Message: Enforcement of conservation and safety laws requires an educated, coordinated and consistent effort.

Why this is important: The Division of Law Enforcement has several missions that include resource protection, boating and waterways management and public safety. FWC uses maritime and wilderness patrol to protect fish, wildlife and habitats to ensure their long-term wellbeing. Law enforcement activities promote safe boating and public safety statewide. FWC works to improve access to Florida’s lands and waters and enrich the outdoor experience of our citizens and visitors.

FWC’s Conservation Core Concepts are adapted from the set of national Core Concepts developed by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA). These national Core Concepts were approved by the entire membership of AFWA, including the 50 state fish and wildlife agencies. FWC staff participated in their development.  

Please note:  The term “fish and wildlife recreation” includes hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and boating.