While we are seeing the effects of environmental issues across the country from droughts to flooding, it is essential to learn about what is occurring here in Florida.
Pollution and Water Quality
As mentioned in our article Are Florida Manatees In Danger Of Extinction? the issue of algae bloom is discussed in terms of its harm to manatees. Essentially, due to runoff and pollution algae blooms are disturbing the aquatic ecosystems. When this algae coats the surface of the water, the plants underneath no longer have enough access to sunlight and oxygen.
In the article, the waterways are being polluted by runoff from fertilizers. When they reach the water, it releases nitrogen and phosphorous, upsetting the chemical balance. Unfortunately, while the amount of fertilizer can be controlled, it is not so simple to control where waste, for example, from leaking septic tanks may go (Sun Sentinel).
In relation to water quality caused by pollution, much of it can be attributed to the increase in development. As Florida expands as a tourist destination as much as a residential focal point, the local environments face the consequences.
A primary example of this is the local case involving Lake Mary Jane suing the state of Florida due to the threat of sprawling development. If you would like to learn more about this case, you can read Personhood And Rights For The Environment.
While this is just one example of the environment fighting back against development to prevent habitat loss, it is an exception. How often do you drive down a road with forest lined property and within a month it is all gone for a new neighborhood, storage facility, or shopping mall?
Florida is home to many species, plants and animals included. Unfortunately, invasive species threaten our environment and wildlife. These are non-native species that overpopulate areas and in turn harm existing native species.
Due to the subtropical climate of Florida, it is ideal living conditions for invasive species. They pose a larger threat here than anywhere else in the United States (The Nature Conservancy). One example of an invasive plant species is the Old World climbing fern that engulfs anything in it’s path. This fern can grow to over 125 feet long and consumes forests and wetlands. The entire state of Florida is also home to wild boars that are known to tear up groundcover and travel in packs.
For marine life, Lionfish are non-native species that prey on native reef fish and crustaceans. This is not only detrimental to the native species, but it also damages the ecology of the reefs (Fish and Wildlife Conservation).
In fact, it is estimated that Florida spends around $100 million per year to manage invasive plants (The Nature Conservancy).