Wildlife Habitat Conservation Needs in Florida: Updated Recommendations for Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas
In 1994, researchers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) completed a report, entitled Closing the Gaps in Florida's Wildlife Habitat Conservation System (Cox et al. 1994), assessing the security of rare and imperiled species on existing conservation lands in Florida. These biologists used a variety of species occurrence and habitat data and a geographic information system to determine the protection afforded to targeted species on lands managed for conservation and identify important habitat areas in Florida with no conservation protection.
These areas, known as Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas (SHCA), serve as a foundation for conservation planning in Florida and depict the need for species protection through habitat conservation. Over time, the Closing the Gaps report became dated. Since 1994, landscape-level habitat changes, transfer of land from private to public ownership, and changes in land use have all altered the applicability of Cox's findings, among other sources, to accurately assess Florida's current biodiversity and wildlife conservation status. Advances in technological capabilities, revised habitat data, and more extensive species occurrence data facilitated a reassessment of Florida's biodiversity protection status. Additionally, advances in population viability modeling techniques allow for more in-depth examination of wildlife habitat needs that were not available in the previous report.
The results of this project have identified Strategic Habitat Conservation Areas for a new selection of focal species, including many species that were in the original report. This project will help determine how habitat protection needs have changed since 1994, and where protection efforts should be focused to ensure conservation of Florida's wildlife for future generations.
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