Program Background

Over the past 35 years, IRC has developed key program areas designed to prevent regional extinctions of rare plants, animals and ecosystems and to improve conservation and restoration projects on the ground. Central to this work is a belief that people can work with nature to restore ecosystems and a healthy sense of place. In fact, we believe our future depends on it. Our program areas are intended to be synergistic and complementary, and our projects often intentionally cross over more than one program area. We also believe in collaboration, and have partnered with dozens of government agencies, conservation organizations, community groups, botanical gardens, universities and other schools, citizen scientists, and private landowners.

Our programs are designed to achieve conservation in the real world. They are based on the following methods:

  • collecting baseline scientific data
  • assessing conservation needs, plan and provide technical support for conservation
  • designing and implement ecological restoration projects and long-term management programs
  • monitoring the effects of conservation projects on rare species and ecosystems and assess needs for adaptive management
  • providing public education and publish the results of our work online and in technical and popular journals
  • nurturing a community of supporters to help us achieve our mission

Our Key Program Areas:

Regional Conservation Models

We develop regional conservation models and tools to advise and direct conservation and restoration strategies by diverse partners across broad regions. Examples of major programs include The Floristic Inventory of South Florida, Floristic Inventory of the Florida Keys, and Plantas de la Isla de Puerto Rico / Plants of the Island of Puerto Rico. Our 2002 book, Rare Plants of South Florida, was instrumental in elevating the conservation of regionally rare plants in South Florida.

Ecological Restoration and Management

Since 2006, we have designed and implemented dozens of ecological restoration projects to help recover degraded native ecosystems and depleted populations of native plants and animals. This work includes our Pine Rockland Initiative in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, and work under the State of Florida's Invasive Plant Management (IMP) Program.

Education and Outreach

We develop interactive programs that engage the public and citizen scientists, and develop online tools to improve conservation efforts at the grassroots level. Our Natives For Your Neighborhood website, now being expanded statewide, records more than 60,000 page views per month. In Delray Beach, Florida, we have developed our Green Delray program, which utilizes volunteers to implement ecological restoration projects in our local community. Our Education and Outreach program is spearheading our new Restoring the Gold Coast program, which works with children and adult volunteers to restore biodiversity along the barrier islands in southern Palm Beach County.

Applied Conservation Science

Since 1996, we have completed dozens of projects, from rare species surveys to conservation area inventories in collaboration with other researchers in order to produce data relevant to land managers. This work contributes data to our online databases and informs our Regional Conservation Models work. Our 2015 report on Vascular plant species of management concern in Everglades National Park culminated over a decade of work on rare plants in the park. We are now partnering with Broward County and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden to evaluate the conservation status of vascular plants in urban Broward County, including as assessment of local extinctions of native plants and opportunities for ecological restoration.

Restoration and Conservation Policy

We collaborate with partners like the Society for Ecological Restoration on global restoration and conservation policy initiatives, including the development of international Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration.

For examples of our projects since 1995, see our Projects page.