Introduction

Long before the Florida Wildlife Conservation Guide was envisioned, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) had concluded that neither the regulatory arena nor Florida’s conservation lands network could sustain our fish and wildlife resources indefinitely without additional help. The 1994 “Closing the Gaps” report recognized the need for private lands being a part of a comprehensive statewide conservation strategy.

The 1988 “Wildlife Methodology Guidelines for Section 18d of the Application for Development Approval” provided the Agency’s first attempt at bringing consistency of fish, wildlife and habitat information for consideration of development projects. Development projects continued to be dealt with as they have arrived, with impacts on habitat being negotiated on a case-by-case basis. This approach has failed to discourage urban sprawl, resulting in fragmented wildlife corridors and fire-suppressed habitats.

While partnering opportunities with private lands has been pursued since the early 1990s, a similar approach to habitat and species conservation was recently developed by FWC through Florida’s State Wildlife Action Plan. The State Wildlife Action Plan (previously the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, CWCS) sets the framework to encourage conservation at a regional, community and cultural level. Within that framework, the Florida Wildlife Conservation Guide is just one of a number of projects that FWC is developing to engage the land use decision-making community as a partner in fish and wildlife conservation.

The Guide is intended to assist any interested user to identify fish and wildlife habitat and life-history needs within land management or development projects. The Guide should enable the user to prioritize habitat and species conservation options early on in project planning. Further, it will help in identifying those landscape elements that support many common species of wildlife and identify the important natural history details, survey protocols, management considerations and population monitoring guidelines for rare or imperiled species. Finally, the Guide provides information on regulatory requirements where they exist. We asked many partners from federal, state and local governments, as well as landowners, researchers, developers and non-profit organizations to contribute to the Guide’s development to ensure that this project would be user-friendly.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this guide is intended to enhance technical assistance to conservation actions for the benefit of fish and wildlife resources and to reduce possible adverse environmental impacts of regulated activities. If a local, state or federal government agency would like to adopt aspects of this guide into rule or to meet a regulatory requirement, please consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the FWC as appropriate.