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Pine Rockland Restoration Program

There is less than 5% of the original pine rockland habitat left in Florida.  Pine rockland is a globally critically imperiled habitat with a rich diversity of unique flora and fauna.  There are still new species being discovered frequently in the remaining fragments.  Zoo Miami grounds contains part of the largest fragment of pine rockland left outside Everglades National Park, called the Richmond Tract.  Although most of it has been designated to be protected from future development, it is under constant assault from invasive plant species.  These invasive plants must be removed and the disturbed areas restored to help protect this valuable natural resource.

With a long list of federally and state protected species occurring on the property, some of which occur nowhere else in the world, it is Zoo Miami’s responsibility to ensure that this special habitat exists for future generations.  Most of the area which is now the city of Miami was built on former pine rockland due to its higher elevation and well draining rocky substrate.  Looking at a pine rockland forest is seeing what most of Miami actually looked like until a relatively short time ago.  With pine rockland fragments in the keys and Caribbean being destroyed by sea level rise, salt water intrusion from hurricanes, fire suppression, and development, preserving the remaining area around Zoo Miami becomes even more important.

Zoo Miami staff, the Environmentally Endangered Lands program, and Miami-Dade County Natural Areas Management work together to protect the pine rockland from disturbance and help control the invasive plant species which threaten it.  They must also work together to conduct regular prescribed burns since it is a highly fire dependent habitat.  Several areas that had soil disturbance years ago are now home to invasive plants that spread and out compete the native plants.  These areas serve as seed banks for the invasives to spread into the healthy pine rockland and must be reclaimed and replanted with native pine rockland plants to remove the threat.  The actual plantings are often turned into public awareness and volunteer events to invest the local community in their preservation.  Constant maintenance is needed to keep the invasive plants at bay due to South Florida’s climate and the large number of new invading plants that are introduced each year into the region.

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Beginning Our Second Restoration Site

With funding from the Florida Native Plant Society’s Conservation Grant Program, Zoo Miami’s Conservation and Research Department and Miami-Dade County’s Natural Areas Management hosted a Pine Rocklands Restoration Planting in the pine rocklands surrounding Zoo Miami. The restoration area was a 1/2-acre linear mound of introduced fill in the pine rocklands surr... Read More
Posted by Frank Ridgley at 28 January 2017

Completing Our First Restoration Site

Volunteers and Miami-Dade County Natural Areas Management assisted Zoo Miami staff in putting several more hundred native pine rockland plants in the ground to complete our first pine rockland restoration site that was started back in 2011.  Hundreds of volunteers and many support organizations through the years have made this possible.  Read More
Posted by Frank Ridgley at 17 June 2016

Another Public Pine Rockland Restoration Event!

Zoo Miami, Florida International University, Tropical Audubon Society, Bank of America, Miami-Dade County Natural Areas Management, and West Miami Eco-Tec Academy teamed up to plant around 450 native pine rockland plants at a restoration site in the zoo’s pinelands. This site was previously heavily disturbed with mounds of dumped substrate and invasive plants. 44 dump truck loads of the m... Read More
Posted by Frank Ridgley at 09 April 2014

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