Preserving and Strengthening Our Remaining Pine Rocklands
South Florida’s pine rockland habitat is one of the most endangered habitats in the world. Pine rockland is typically identified by an open canopy of slash pine (Pinus elliottii var. densa), a lower layer of both tropical and temperate shrubs and palms and a ground cover of grasses and herbs (FNAI, 1990).
Endangered Pine Rockland Habitat
Situated in the subtropics, the pine rockland ecosystem has a rich diversity of temperate and tropical plants. This ecosystem contains over 400 native plant species. 31 of these species are endemic, meaning they're found no where else in the world, 5 species are listed as federally endangered, and 5 species are candidates for listing.
Miami's pine rocklands support the bald eagle, Kirtland's warbler and the eastern indigo snake, as well as more common urban-adapted critters like foxes, raccoons, possums and squirrels. The rare and beautiful atala butterfly, Florida leafwing butterfly and rim rock crowned snake are occasionally glimpsed.
The Connect to Protect Network
Historically, pine rockland extended continuously and uninterrupted along the Miami Rock Ridge from northern Miami Beach south and westward into Everglades National Park. Because of rapid development , just 2% of the habitat intact remains outside of Everglades National Park. The 2% of habitat remaining exist as forest fragments dispersed amongst the urban matrix.
Our objective is to create corridors and stepping stone gardens that connect isolated pine rockland fragments. These corridors, such as rights-of-way along freeways or privately owned pine rockland parcels, will be restored back to health by planting native pine rockland species and managing non-native invasive plants. This will increase the probability that bees, butterflies and birds can find and transport seeds and pollen across developed areas that separate pine rocklands fragments.
Interchange of seeds and pollen improves gene flow, the genetic health of native plant species, and thus, the likelihood that these species will persist over the long term. Many native pine rockland species are rare, threatened or endangered. Planting pine rockland species will increase the numbers of individual plants and reduce the risk of extinction.
Meeting the goals of the CTPN will require widespread participation from many citizens and planting many native pine rockland species. Because many of these species are uncommon in the nursery trade, Fairchild has collected seeds of pine rockland plants to learn about their germination, storage and cultivation requirements. Members of CTPN will receive some of these uncommon pine rockland species and will help gather much needed information about the growth of pine rockland plants on their properties.
We'd like to thank U.S Fish and WIldlife Service, Miami-Dade County Natural Areas Management and Environmentally Endangered Lands Program, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry, Endangered and Threatened Native Flora Conservation Grants Program, and Institute for Regional Conservation for supporting the Connect to Protect Network.
INFORMATION AND RESOURCES