Most of Broward's legacy of indigenous plants and wildlife are still living on the protected properties shown on the map and property list below. It is surprising that species living here for the millennia before development still exist on such small and isolated remaining natural areas, but many do. About 620 native plant species of the original 730 species thought to be in Broward at the end of World War II, still exist. But rare species are now in very small populations in very few places. In some cases only a single population numbering less than a dozen plants remains. Such small populations are, of course, highly vulnerable. Without protection they are the next species to be lost.
Incredibly, no map or collective data set shows the locations and status of all these rare plant species. No countywide procedures or plans have been adopted to help land managers of natural areas know about them and protect them. But there is good news, too. Broward County and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden are coorperating to identify rare species in Broward. The Institute for Regional Conservation is updating its plant inventory for the county as information comes in. If you see rare native plants that are not listed in the IRC database, please let us know. An accurate location and good photos are most helpful. Sometimes plant locations are hidden in the database to protect them or perhaps they have never been reported. We can refer to native species that have never been spientifically reported as Broward's "dark diversity." Knowing about them will help scientists and public land managers better protect them.
Start by understanding (if you don't already know) where these rare species now live: primarily on the natural lands in urban Broward. In fact, over 500 of the of the original 730 plant species (that have always lived in the eastern urban third of Broward County) must continue to live on these remaining urban natural and restored lands because of the special habitats they require. The acreage now remaining for nature is about 3% of urban Broward. Protecting rare habitats and keeping invasive exotic plants out of these habitats is key to keeping the wonderful diversity of South Florida alive.