All of this information was then integrated in a process that identified a statewide Ecological Greenways Network containing all of the largest areas of ecological and natural resource significance and the landscape linkages necessary to link these areas together in one functional statewide network. The process was collaborative and overseen by three separate state-appointed greenways councils. During the development of the model, technical input was obtained from the Florida Greenways Commission, Florida Greenways Coordinating Council, state, regional, and federal agencies, scientists, university personnel, conservation groups, planners and the general public in over 20 sessions. When the modeling was completed, the results were thoroughly reviewed in public meetings statewide as part of the development of the Greenways Implementation Plan completed in 1999.
In 1999-2000, the Ecological Greenways Network was prioritized, reviewed, and approved by the Florida Greenways and Trails Council. The approved prioritization separated the Network into 6 priority levels to delineate degrees of significance and to support strategic protection efforts. The ecological greenways were prioritized in a two step process. First, two meetings with staff from the Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Natural Areas Inventory, the Water Management Districts, and other agencies and groups were conducted to discuss criteria and data for selecting priorities. Based on these meetings, the University of Florida developed a GIS model that refined and modified the original ecological greenways model process to identify features within the ecological greenways model results that were either high, moderate, or lower priorities for protecting statewide connectivity.
The next step involved separating areas identified as high and moderate priorities into even more refined classes of priority using a general set of criteria. Though the original prioritization was used to support this effort, more refined priorities were needed to serve as a better planning tool. The following criteria was used to place potential landscape linkage and corridor projects into more refined priority classes:
1) Potential importance for maintaining or restoring populations of wide-ranging species (e.g., Florida black bear and Florida panther)
2) Importance for maintaining a statewide, connected reserve network from south Florida through the panhandle.
3) Other important landscape linkages that provide additional opportunities to maintain statewide connectivity especially in support
4) Importance as a riparian corridor to protect water resources, provide functional habitat gradients, and to possibly provide connectivity to areas within other states. of higher priority linkages.
The Florida Greenways Program implementation report (1998) included the identification of critical linkages as the next step following prioritization in the process of protecting an ecological greenways network across the state. Critical linkages serve as more defined project areas that are most important for protecting the Florida Ecological Greenways Network. Such critical linkages are to be approved by the Florida Greenways and Trails Council on an iterative basis as linkages are protected or priorities change over time.
Two primary data sets were used to delineate the first iteration of critical linkages. To define linkages that are most critical to the protection of the Florida Ecological Greenways Network, prioritization based on both ecological criteria and level of threat by conversion to development (development pressure) is needed. For ecological-based prioritization, the prioritization process described above that categorized the Florida Ecological Greenways Network into six priority levels was used (Fig. 1; Hoctor et al. 2001).
Development pressure was modeled by Jason Teisinger (2002). These analyses were then combined to identify candidate areas for selection as Critical Linkages. Areas were selected that had either very high ecological significance or high ecological significance while also having critical areas threatened by development.
Ten areas were selected for Critical Linkage status and these areas will now serve as the highest priorities for protecting landscape connectivity through the Florida Forever Program, Save Our Rivers program, and for other conservation initiatives where state, regional, and local government can work with willing landowners to protect our best remaining large, connected landscapes statewide.
A note about data scale:
Scale is an important factor in data usage. Certain scale datasets are not suitable for some project, analysis, or modeling purposes. Please be sure you are using the best available data.
1:24000 scale datasets are recommended for projects that are at the county level. 1:24000 data should NOT be used for high accuracy base mapping such as property parcel boundaries. 1:100000 scale datasets are recommended for projects that are at the multi-county or regional level. 1:125000 scale datasets are recommended for projects that are at the regional or state level or larger.
Vector datasets with no defined scale or accuracy should be considered suspect. Make sure you are familiar with your data before using it for projects or analysis. Every effort has been made to supply the user with data documentation. For additional information, see the References section and the Data Source Contact section of this documentation. For more information regarding scale and accuracy, see our webpage at: <http://geoplan.ufl.edu/education.html>
Carr, Margaret H., Paul D. Zwick, Thomas S. Hoctor and Mark A. Benedict Final Report, Phase II, Florida Statewide Greenways Planning Project, Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Florida, February, 1999.
Cox, J., Kautz, R., MacLaughlin, M., and Gilbert, T. 1994. Closing the gaps in Florida's wildlife habitat conservation system. Tallahassee, FL: Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, Office of Environmental Services.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Greenways Coordinating Council. 1998. Connecting Florida's Communities with Greenways and Trails, The Five Year Implementation Plan for the Florida Greenways and Trails System. Tallahassee, FL.
Florida Greenways Commission. 1994. Creating a Statewide Greenways System For People...For Wildlife...For Florida - Florida Greenways Commission Report to the Governor. Tallahassee, FL: 1000 Friends of Florida.
Florida Natural Areas Inventory. 1995. Florida Natural Areas Inventory Datasets. Tallahassee, FL: Florida Natural Areas Inventory.
Harris, L.D. 1985. Conservation Corridors: a highway system for wildlife. ENFO:85-5. Winter Park: FL: Florida Conservation Foundation.
Harris, L. D., T. Hoctor, D. Maehr and J. Sanderson. 1996. The role of networks and corridors in enhancing the value and protection of parks and equivalent areas. Pp. 173-198 in Wright, R. G., ed. National Parks and Protected Areas: Their Role in Environmental Areas. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Science.
Hoctor, T. S., M. H. Carr, P. D. Zwick. 2000. Identifying a linked reserve system using a regional landscape approach: the Florida ecological network. Conservation Biology 14:984-1000.
Hoctor, T. S., J. Teisinger, M. H. Carr, P. D. Zwick. 2001. Ecological Greenways Network Prioritization for the State of Florida. Final Report. Office of Greenways and Trails, Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Tallahassee, FL.
Hoctor, T. S., J. Teisinger, M. H. Carr, P. D. Zwick. 2002. Identification of Critical Linkages Within the Florida Ecological Greenways Network. Final Report. Office of Greenways and Trails, Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Tallahassee, FL.
Noss, R. F. 1987. Protecting natural areas in fragmented landscapes. Natural Areas Journal 7:2-13.
Noss, R. F. and L. D. Harris. 1986. Nodes, Networks and MUMs: Preserving Diversity at All Scales. Environment Management 10:299-309.
Pritchard, P.C.H., and Kale, H.W. 1994. Saving what's left. Casselberry, FL: Florida Audubon Society.
Smith, D.S., and P.C. Hellmund, Eds. 1993. Ecology of Greenways - Design and Function of Linear Conservation Areas. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minneapolis Press.
Teisinger, Jason. 2002. Where will we grow? Using Geographic Information Systems to determine Florida statewide residential growth potential. Masters Project. College of Design, Construction and Planning, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Florida.
The Nature Conservancy. 1991. Preservation 2000 Charette and Map. Tallahassee, FL: The Nature Conservancy.
University of Florida. 1996. Final Report for Phase I of the Statewide Greenways System Planning Project. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida, Department of Landscape Architecture and GeoPlan Center, Department of Urban and Regional Planning.
1) Delineate priority classes for new additions to the FEGN adopted in 2004. 2) Simplify priority classes to solidify the identity of the areas most important for completing a statewide FEGN. 3) Determine whether any changes in priority classes are warranted especially regarding Critical Linkages.
There were three major steps undertaken to reprioritize the FEGN. The first step assigned priority classes to the FEGN additions based on the nearest and connected existing priority class. The second step combined the original priority classes 2 and 3 into one new priority 2 class. This resulted in 6 priority classes versus the original 7 classes. The final step included all of the additional recommended changes in priority classes based on re-assessment of development pressure, logical consolidations or other edits of priority boundaries, and new conservation projects relevant to protecting the high priorities within the FEGN. A draft set of changes were presented in a technical review meeting in August 2005 with staff from Florida Natural Areas Inventory, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Water Management Districts, and the Florida Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Their recommendations for modifying the draft reprioritization were the primary basis for the proposed priority changes. However, some minor additional changes were added based on further analysis by the University of Florida and the Office of Greenways and Trails. The process used to develop the updated Ecological Greenways Network priorities is described in much more detail in the prioritization update report (Hoctor and Carr 2005), which is available from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Office of Greenways and Trails or can be downloaded at www.geoplan.ufl.edu.
This update of the Florida Ecological Greenways Network (FEGN) was needed to address changes in the base boundary of the FEGN that was adopted by the Florida Greenways and Trails Council in 2004. For more information, see the report by the University of Florida for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Office of Greenways and Trails titled "Reprioritization of the Florida Ecological Greenways Network based on the New Base Boundaries Adopted in 2004".