Community

UCF, Conservation Florida Join Forces to Protect Natural Lands

By Kyle Martin |
December 5, 2018

(Photo courtesy of Conservation Florida)

A new partnership between Conservation Florida and both UCF’s Biology department and UCF Coastal increases the bench strength of statewide land protection work.

The partnership aims to produce research, guidance, and a multidisciplinary voice to land and wildlife conservation to propel advancement in the greater Central Florida region.

Conservation Florida brings 19 years of land protection, advocacy and landowner education to the partnership, with conservation projects currently totaling more than 180,000 acres. UCF’s contribution is a team of biologists, engineers, social scientists, economists, and emergency managers.

“Thoughtful, research-based land protection in the Central and South Central Florida regions is the ultimate goal.” – Traci Deen, executive director of Conservation Florida

“We are honored to partner with the University of Central Florida to creatively address Florida’s conservation future in areas critical to the health of Florida’s water, wildlife, economy, and overall quality of life,” says Traci Deen, executive director of Conservation Florida.  “Thoughtful, research-based land protection in the Central and South Central Florida regions is the ultimate goal.”

For UCF, the partnership represents teaching, learning, and research opportunities out in the field. Some of the work will include protecting the Kissimmee River Basin in the heart of the peninsula, home to family-run ranches and wide-ranging species like the Florida panther. Conservation Florida is targeting projects that will help protect some of the world’s rarest habitats and species living in Florida’s heartland.

“Our new partnership with Conservation Florida will allow UCF to bring its academic power to the table, and to work with them to expand their efforts to protect Florida’s irreplaceable conservation lands,” says Graham Worthy, Ph.D., chair of UCF’s Biology department and UCF Coastal’s director.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity … we are thrilled to stand with UCF as the catalyst.” – Traci Deen, executive director of Conservation Florida

The team intends to take advantage of the National Center for Integrated Coastal Research (UCF Coastal). UCF Coastal’s research team extends beyond biology to include social scientists, ecologists, and economists to provide a three-dimensional picture of human impact on coastal ecosystems.

“We need to find effective approaches that don’t strain our ability to implement them, that work for all stakeholders, and will ultimately result in forward momentum,” says Worthy.

Next steps include developing an advisory board of renowned experts to review ongoing projects research opportunities.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for scientists, advocates, lawyers, government, economists, and the nonprofit sector to convene and address the conservation needs in the Central and South-Central Florida regions,” Deen says. “We are thrilled to stand with UCF as the catalyst.”