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First-of-its-kind study shows Florida Wildlife Corridor eases worst impacts of climate change

From rising temperatures and altered precipitation patterns to intense weather events such as hurricanes, Florida is experiencing significant climate-related challenges in tandem with skyrocketing insurance rates. As the state's population continues to surge by 1,000 new residents a day, it is projected to lose 3.5 million acres of land to development by 2070, threatening Florida's future ability to maintain biodiversity and ecosystem services.

A first-of-its-kind study highlights how Florida can buffer itself against both climate change and population pressures by conserving the remaining 8 million acres of "opportunity areas" within the Florida Wildlife Corridor (FLWC). Currently, about 10 million acres of the expansive FLWC's 18 million acres are already conserved permanently.

This superhighway of interconnected acres of wildlands, working lands and waters is the only designated statewide corridor in the United States, and a world-class adaption plan facing down ground zero of climate change in an already warm location. Spanning from Alabama to the Everglades, the FLWC not only protects endangered species like the Florida panther, but also brings economic and climate benefits to local communities. About 90% of Floridians live within 20 miles of the corridor.

The new report, "The Florida Wildlife Corridor and Climate Change: Managing Florida's Natural and Human Landscapes for Prosperity and Resilience," is a joint project by Florida Atlantic University, Archbold Biological Station, Live Wildly Foundation and numerous collaborators. The report paints a holistic picture of how climate change and population growth will impact Florida's communities and natural resources, and how the FLWC, if it were fully enacted, can continue to moderate those impacts.