What is a Pine Rockland?
Pine Rocklands comprise a globally imperiled ecosystem that exists only in southern Florida and parts of the Bahamas. They are home to many rare plant and animal species, including ten Federally Endangered plants and four proposed for protection under the Endangered Species Act. A typical pine rockland is characterized by limestone outcroppings, a canopy of Florida Slash Pine, and a diverse, herbaceous understory. In South Florida, pristine pine rocklands have all but disappeared outside of Everglades National Park, leaving fragments representing perhaps 2% of the original extent of pine rocklands within Miami-Dade County’s urban corridor. Existing fragments are threatened by habitat destruction, invasive pest plants and fire suppression.
What is the Pine Rockland Initiative?
The Pine Rockland Initiative is program funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies and administered by the Institute for Regional Conservation (IRC). The goal of the program is to restore and manage pine rockland fragments on private lands. Click the image below to see a powerpoint presentation about the program.
What will happen on my land? IRC will actively manage your site and perform restoration activities to increase the quality of the habitat. Management activities will include some or all of the following:
- Baseline Vegetation Monitoring - An IRC biologist will visit your site and assess the quality of the habitat. This includes a floristic inventory and a survey for rare or endangered plants.
- Invasive Exotic Plant Removal - A trained IRC restoration team will remove exotic pest plants (such as Brazilian-pepper, Burmareed, Woman's-tongue, and Gold Coast jasmine) and sometimes native hardwoods. Some plants will be mechanically removed while others will be treated with herbicide. Initial treatments usually involve 1-2 visits a month for the first 3-6 months.
- Native Hardwood Removal - Pine rocklands that do not burn regularly are often invaded or overtaken by native hardwoods (such as poisonwood or live oak). While these plants are native, they will degrade pine rockland habitat if not controlled by fire or manually removed if necessary.
- Prescribed Fire - Regular fire is vital to the long-term health of pine rockland habitat and naturally occurs every 3-7 years. To maintain optimal quality, pine rocklands need to burn at least once every 10 years. Certified professionals will create a fire prescription to ensure the health and safety of the habitat and surrounding areas. During burns, our team with work the Florida Division of Forestry and other agenicies to implement the prescibed fire in a safe and professional manner.
- Long-Term Monitoring - IRC will monitor the site at least once every six months. Vegetation will be inventoried at each of these visits and follow-up treatments for control of invasive exotic plants will be completed as needed.
Why do it?
Management activities are provided free of charge and can help you meet the requirements for an Environmentally Endangered Lands Covenant for tax exemption in Miami-Dade County. Participation also provides increased safety since managed pine rocklands present a lower fire hazard than non-maintained pinelands. In addition, your land will be more aesthetically pleasing after restoration. Not only that, but it will be a healthier and more diverse habitat for rare plant and animal species. If you want to go green, there is no better way to do so than to be the steward of a globally imperiled habitat right in your own backyard!
Sample Pine Rockland Restoration Results
What's the catch?
Restoration is hard work. We would hate to see all that money and hard work go to waste. That is why landowners may be required to sign a cooperative agreement for up to 10 years. It also states that if you change your mind during that period and no longer want to part of the progam, you will be required to reimburse us for the amount that has been spent on your land. This is our way of ensuring that you are committed to restoring your land and keeping it healthy into the future.
How do I sign up?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call IRC at 305-247-6547 for more information or to set up a site visit with one of our restoration biologists. If the pine rockland on your property is of high enough quality that it can be restored and managed, we will provide you with a cooperative agreement to sign and will guide you through the rest of the process.
Since 1984, IRC has been dedicated to the protection, restoration, and long-term management of biodiversity. As a South Florida-based nonprofit, we aim to prevent regional extinctions of rare plants, animals, and ecosystems. For more than a quarter of a century, we have worked to preserve South Florida’s natural heritage through partnerships with local, state, and federal agencies, and nonprofit organizations. We believe in the value of our regional ecosystems and remain committed to their conservation. Please join us in this endeavor!