Florida is home to three important National Forests, as well as several State Forests. Each of these sites are important for a variety of reasons.
Florida’s forests, wildlife and natural environments are under constant assault. Over-development, pollution and encorachment all pose grave, constant threats. Wild, natural forest areas help preserve sensitive ecosystems and provide valuable recreation opportunities for Florida’s residents, and for future generations.
Apalachicola National Forest
The Apalachicola National Forest is the largest national forest in Florida. It occupies more than 500,000 acres, and houses vast tracts of native Longleaf Pine forest ecosystem. Gorgeous rivers, springs and lakes are sprinkled among the wooded acres, which add vital water sources and habitat for various bird and waterfowl. The area has a rich history, dating back to the earliest events of American history, and even back to pre-history, when the earliest humans and exotic, extinct animals roamed North America.
The Ocala National Forest is located near Orlando, and provides great natural recreation opportunities which are convenient to the Orlando metropolitan area. Ocala is a unique and vital ecosystem, and includes the world’s most expansive sand pine scrub forest.
When people hear “forest” they tend to think of trees. But, a forest is so much more than just trees. A forest ecosystem also encompasses many different elements which contribute to the broader ecosystem. For example, Ocala National Forest has more than 600 lakes, rivers and springs. These waterways and springs are vital to Florida’s environment, and have wide-ranging effects. For example, excessive nitrates deposited into a forest in Ocala might seep into the Florida Aquifer and leech into springs and the water table. Once inside the watertable and Florida Aquifer system, nitrates are able to pollute rivers many miles away. When the nitrates eventually find their way into the ocean, they contribute to Red Tide Algae blooms, “dead-zones” and other ecological nightmares.
The natural springs around Ocala National Forest are some of the most beautiful in Florida:
Osceola National Forest
Osceola National Forest is slightly less famous, but is amazing in its own rite. American history lovers especially love Osceola because it was the site of the important Civil War battle at Olustee.
Every year, Civil War history enthusiasts gather in the forest to recreate the battle and remember the important period in American history.
Florida National Scenic Trail
The Florida National Scenic Trail is one of eleven National Scenic Trails in the United States. It was created and designated by the U.S. Congress, and is administered by the USDA Forest Service.
The trail stretches to more than 1,400 miles, and offers an incredible, unbroken hiking opportunity for Florida nature lovers to hike from one end of Florida to the other.
There is a National preserve at either of the Florida National Scenic Trail. The north end of the trail is marked by the Gulf Islands National Seashore. The south end is marked by the Big Cypress National Preserve.
Preserving Florida’s Natural Forests
Florida’s natural environment is a precious and priceless resource. Proper forest management is essential to preserving Florida’s important forest ecosystems and biodiversity.
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors – we borrow it from our children” -Native American Proverb
Proper forestry education is important because without knowledge, Florida landowners and forest managers will not have the knowledge or tools they need to properly care for land.
Essential skills for Florida land management:
- Forest Management
- Water Management
- Wildlife Management
- Florida Aquifer Protection
- Florida Spring Protection
- National Forest Management
- State Forest Management
- Campground Management
- Real Estate Principles
- Real estate and property title processes
Landowners, people interested in land ownership, and many other groups need tools to learn proper forest and land management principles. Together, these groups give the best chance at success for practicing sustainable forestry and responsible land management.