Why Is Protecting The Everglades So Important?Marjory Douglas, also known as the “Mother of the Everglades” once said, “The Everglades is a test. If we pass it, we get to keep the planet”. Conserving and protecting the Ecosystem and its wildlife is a top priority. With countless species of animals, many endangered or threatened, it’s easy to see why so many groups, both private and public work towards this goal. A wetland of international importance, the Everglades is one of the last untouched, natural environments in the United States where families can enjoy sightseeing, airboating and more.
There aren’t many landmasses as spectacular in America as the Florida Everglades. An impressive aquatic ecosystem covering more than 18,000 square miles, the ‘glades is an aesthetic novelty for sure, but it’s also home to an unbelievable number of plants and animals - some threatened or endangered. Aside from its natural beauty, the ecosystem provides millions of South Floridians with drinking water, and is a tremendous asset to the sunshine state. So why is the Everglades in need of protection and what is being done to improve one of America’s most exciting natural resources?
Brief History: The Health of the EvergladesThe health of the Everglades is a major concern, and efforts to protect and conserve this unique environment are ongoing. Why have the wetlands suffered over the years? Draining and development dates back to the early 1900’s and many projects designed to alter the Everglades went unquestioned. In the mid 1980’s, in efforts to protect coastal properties in South Florida, legislators thought it was a good idea to construct canals and pump systems to control water flow. Drainage projects were designed to help excess water recede, making it less likely coastal lands would flood. Negative implications were not evident until years later. Today, scientists and biologists have discovered many of these projects had tremendous impacts on flora and fauna that reside in the Everglades ecosystem. For alligators in particular, drainage projects forced fish and other animals to relocate, making it difficult to find food. Land conversion and drainage are mostly to blame for the declining health of the Everglades, but there are other variables as well. Climate change, including rainfall, increased sea-levels and higher temperatures contribute as well
At one time, the Everglades ecosystem covered 11 million acres. Through the years, land conversion and drainage projects impacted the wetlands, vastly decreasing its size to slightly over 2 million acres. Today, there are still a wide range of man-made and natural threats to the health of the Everglades. Fires, hurricanes, floods, even droughts contribute to damage along with pollution, land development and the ongoing effort to reduce coastal flooding. Heightened awareness about the Everglades's health is important as even slight changes to the area impact not only Florida residents, but also thousands of animals who rely on the Everglades for survival.