This Friday, May 20th, is the seventeenth annual Endangered Species Day. A day on which people celebrate and learn about our threatened and endangered species, Endangered Species Day also celebrates the successes we’ve had with wildlife conservation and restoration efforts: through such efforts, we can help preserve and protect the plants and animals facing human-caused extinction.
As city after city in Florida makes the list of best places to live… as the Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg market ranks number five on the list of markets for overall real estate prospects, such efforts become increasingly important. Increased pressures for land threaten the very species we seek to protect:
- The Florida Endangered and Threatened Species List currently comprises 133 fish and wildlife species
- The list of Endangered, Threatened and Commercially Exploited Plants of Florida contains the names of 575 species of plants.
- Hillsborough County has 36 state and federally listed species while
- Pinellas County has 33 state and federally listed species
Endangered Species Day is consequently a day for us to take heed. We must develop sustainably if we’re to meet “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Hillsborough County defines steps that must be taken to develop sustainably. These include the following:
- Conservation of soil to reduce sedimentation, soil erosion
- Retention of trees and other vegetation to create an aesthetically pleasing and functioning living environment
- Protection of environmentally sensitive area
- Ensuring that excavating activities don’t impact surface or ground water
- Ensuring that excavated material is removed without adverse impact on health, safety, or welfare
- Controlling fill to protect surface water flow
- Ensuring that all development complies with our Comprehensive Plan
While these are certainly needed steps, I would posit that alone, they are insufficient. We must proactively take steps to protect all species, particularly those at high-risk.
I have a friend who frequently states, “We must know a species in order to care enough to help save it.”
What species motivates you to care enough to help it?