Natural Areas Management
The Natural Areas Management Division (NAM) of the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department is responsible for restoration and management of 98 nature preserves totaling morethan 26,000 acres of land. Our primary responsibility is to control invasive species to help preserve our natural environment. Miami-Dade's forests are surrounded by an urban and agricultural landscape from which exotic plants easily escape. Exotic plants continue to invade our natural areas. It is more cost-effective to institute a preventive maintenance program to ensure that our natural areas do not degrade from neglect. Our crews have twenty years experience working in and restoring south Florida's delicate habitats. NAM provides natural resources management services as well as scientific and environmental expertise to various county, state and federal agencies.
Mission: To restore, protect and manage Miami-Dade County's natural environment through conservation, resource management, environmental partnerships, and community outreach to preserve these areas for present and future generations.
In 1991, the Parks Department established Natural Areas Management to initiate active management of the natural areas under its jurisdiction. The groundwork for the program was funded by an Elizabeth Ordway Dunn Foundation grant which allowed Miami-Dade Parks, The Nature Conservancy, and Fairchild Tropical Garden to form a conservation partnership.
Approximately 26,800 acres of native forest and wetland occur on 89 sites in Miami-Dade's nature preserve system, including 1,668 acres of globally-endangered pine rockland and 670 acres of upland hardwood forest including State-endangered rockland hammock forest. The remaining forests of Miami-Dade County are particularly important and sensitive resources. Less than 1% of Miami-Dade County's original 185,000 acres of forest remain.
The diversity of plant species is incredible, more than 60 species in these forests are found nowhere else in the world. These natural areas are also critical to native wildlife and migratory birds. Miami-Dade's natural areas are also focal points for environmental education, nature study, wildlife observation and other passive recreation activities.
Unfortunately, South Florida's hospitable environment has also favored the colonization of a number of exotic plant species. Over the last century, humans have introduced hundreds of plant species from all parts of the world to South Florida. Most have caused no significant problems, but some have escaped into the wild and have cause severe damage to natural systems. In a natural area, these invasive non-native plants compete for limited resources such as space, light and nutrients. With few or no natural enemies to control their growth, some species are capable of completely displacing native habitats. Examples of these include the Melaleuca tree, Brazilian Pepper, Australian Pine, and Old World climbing fern.
We partner with different agencies, programs, groups and entities to maximize natural resource management and protection for south Florida's fragile habitats and stressed native species.
Natural Areas Management forms integral partnerships with other agencies and organizations, including: