Ranger has stayed particularly close these last few days. For one thing, we’ve had daily thunderstorms, which he doesn’t like at all. Last night it poured rain, and when we were ready to go to bed I took him out anyway so he could pee, and he got soaked just in a couple of minutes, not to mention losing complete interest in doing his business. We finally came inside and shook ourselves off. But he also stayed close because he knows when my head is spinning with thought. We finished reading several E.O. Wilson books, and are coming to understand the need for Half-Earth.
Ranger: “So you’ve been pushing around the thoughts about Florida and if this, our home state, could possibly make a commitment to Half-Earth. It’s no wonder you’re morose the last few days.”
Me: “Okay, when I say these numbers, please know that they are rounded off for the sake of the conversation, okay? Florida has nearly 54,000 square miles. If you add up all the federal, state, county, municipal and private park land you find that roughly 28% of that land is protected, about 9,400,000 acres. But think of the parks we know well, like 5 Points Park or Payne Park in Sarasota. Those are city parks and are devoted to human enjoyment and use. Myakka State Park, just down the road from us, is a mixed bag, offering humans an opportunity to camp, drive through, fish and kayak, but most of it is beyond quick access by people. Carlton Preserve is even more remote, but it too has bicycle paths and driving trails. Given the wide variety of uses, let’s argue that about half of the 28% would qualify as beyond human impact and could be counted as protective of biodiversity. So 12% of Florida could be protected for biodiversity. That, according to Wilson, is not going to cut it.”
Me, Continuing: “Next week Darryl and I (sorry, Ranger, it’s too hot for you to go with us) will be up on the panhandle touring the Nokuse Plantation. That is 53,000 acres set aside to recreate the long leaf pine forest that used to cover 6 million acres of the American southeast, but was decimated by clear cutting for lumber, pitch and turpentine. The point I’m trying to make is that we’re in need of a LOT more land to be set aside in order to achieve Half-Earth here in Florida. Efforts like Nokuse need to be multiplied, which is difficult when most Floridians don’t understand the need for large tracts of land to be completely set aside.”
Ranger: “Why must these tracts be large?”
Me: Oh, stay tuned!!! Next time.