Connecting What Matters: Landscape-scale connectivity is the future of conservation.

Connecting Lands for Wildlife and People

Imagine Florida 10, 20, or even 50 years from now. What do you see?

Florida is changing fast. Right before our eyes, farmlands are being converted to housing developments. Forests are being razed, and wetlands are being dredged and paved. Growth and change are inevitable, but we can and must make smart decisions about what lands we choose to protect.

The Conservation Trust for Florida is looking ahead, and there is a lot to look forward to. We know that there is still time to play a meaningful role in shaping Florida’s conservation future. The wild and rural Florida you love is still out there, and we are working to keep it that way.

The key is to continue working at a landscape scale.

What is landscape-scale conservation?

There are many definitions of this complex conservation trend, but, at its heart, landscape-scale conservation is the practice of thinking big. Projects span entire regions — connecting large conservation properties together like a vast jigsaw puzzle. The interconnected properties are owned and managed by various people and agencies that collaborate to achieve specific objectives for that region. We’ve started calling these protected areas “conservation hubs.”

Our work focuses on creating, expanding, and linking conservation hubs throughout the state. This is our best chance to save Florida’s iconic species, protect our drinking water, provide wild spaces to enjoy nature, and keep working family lands, like ranches and farms, in production for generations to come.

A view from the Silver Springs Forest Conservation Area. CTF helped protect this 4,900-acre property in 2015. It is now owned and managed by the St. Johns River Water Management District. Photo by Carlton Ward Jr.

Silver Springs Sandhill adds 465 acres to Central Florida’s Conservation Hub

This year, we were thrilled to announce the protection of the 465-acre Silver Springs Sandhill property. In January, the Conservation Trust for Florida finalized negotiations and signed a purchase option with the property’s multiple owners. In September, the purchase was finalized with funding from Florida Forever, the state’s primary conservation land acquisition program. John Rudnianyn, one of the sellers, said, “This was the last large undeveloped property located in Silver Springs and was entitled for over 1,800 homes.” Instead of developing the property, which would have negatively impacted Silver Springs and the Silver River, the land is now in the hands of Marion County Parks and Recreation and will be opened to the public. As you can see in the map below, the property connects to Indian Lake State Forest and Marion County’s Coehadjoe Park.

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