The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Landowner Assistance Program has created a program that will recognize landowners who are actively managing and improving their property to benefit wildlife. The FWC developed the Wildlife Habitat Recognition Program to show appreciation for the important contributions to wildlife conservation made by private landowners.
Private landowners play a critical role in wildlife conservation by protecting and restoring rare habitats like the longleaf pine-wiregrass ecosystem, and managing farms, ranches, and forests that provide habitat to many species. While public land protects some species of wildlife, these lands form a fragmented landscape of habitat. Private lands provide critical corridors between publicly managed conservation lands.
“Private landowners don’t always get the recognition they deserve for managing their land to benefit wildlife,” said Kipp Frohlich, Director of the Division of Habitat and Species Conservation.
In Florida, more than 70 percent of the land is privately owned. Across the country, more than half of all threatened and endangered species in the United States depend on private lands.
“While Florida has been proactive in purchasing land for conservation, it has long been recognized that we do not have adequate public lands to protect all biodiversity,” said Frohlich. “Private landowners managing their own land; ranches, forests, wetlands and farms to benefit wildlife is critically important if we are to maintain our state’s diverse wildlife resources. These landowners are vitally important to the conservation of Florida’s wildlife.”
To be recognized by the program, landowners must submit a request for an FWC biologist to evaluate their property to determine if it qualifies. Qualifying properties will have ample food, cover and water opportunities for wildlife. If the property meets these criteria, the landowner will receive a sign to display on the property as well as a certificate of recognition.
Properties working toward meeting the requirements will be offered a written management plan to guide the landowners in meeting the habitat management standards for the program. Requests for property evaluation can be made online at MyFWC.com/LAPApplication.
FWC LAP biologists work with private landowners to help them manage wildlife and their habitats by providing management recommendations and helping find financial assistance for habitat work. To learn more about managing wildlife on your property, check out our Managing Your Land section online at MyFWC.com/LAP. If you need technical assistance you can also contact the LAP regional biologist at the nearest FWC Regional Office.