The steady decline of the Florida Everglades

The ecosystem still faces several threats that put its biodiversity at risk

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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The steady decline of the Florida Everglades

The Everglades, located in southern Florida, are a unique and fascinating ecosystem. Considered one of America's natural treasures, this vast system of swamps, mangroves, water meadows and cypress forests covers an area of approximately 1.5 million acres.

The flora of the Everglades is incredibly diverse, with a wide range of plant species thriving in this unique habitat. The marshes are dominated by vast carpets of sawgrass, which stretch for miles, providing a breathtaking sight.

Other plants common in the Everglades include bald cypress, Florida pine, several orchid species, bromeliads, and mangroves.

The wildlife of the Everglades is equally diverse and fascinating. It is a bird lover's paradise, with over 350 different species living there or migrating through.

Among the best known are the fish eagle, the peregrine falcon, the Audubon's gull and the tricolored gull. The area is also famous for its alligators and caimans, which can easily be spotted basking in the sun or sailing silently in the shallow waters.

Other animals that populate the Everglades include the Florida manatee, the rare Florida puma, the otter, the Everglades deer, and a wide range of fish and reptiles.

To protect the Everglades ecosystem and allow people to appreciate its beauty, several access regulations have been put in place.

Some areas of the Everglades have been designated as national parks and wildlife preserves, where access is strictly regulated. These rules serve to protect the natural balance of the ecosystem and ensure that flora and fauna can thrive without excessive interference.

Despite efforts to protect the Everglades, the ecosystem still faces several threats that put its biodiversity at risk. One of the main problems is pollution. Human activities, such as intensive agriculture, shipping and urbanization, have caused a flow of pollutants into the Everglades waters.

This has led to alterations in nutrient and salinity levels, compromising the health of the plants and animals that depend on this fragile ecosystem.

Another threat is the introduction of invasive species. Exotic plants and animals, accidentally or deliberately introduced to the area, have adapted to the Everglades and have begun to compete with native species for limited resources.

Such invasive species can quickly take over and threaten the survival of native species.

Additionally, climate change poses another challenge to the Everglades. Rising sea levels, higher temperatures and extreme weather events can alter the natural balance of the ecosystem and put the resilience of the species that inhabit it to the test.

Despite these threats, many efforts have been made to protect and restore the Everglades. Numerous environmental organizations, along with federal and state governments, are working to reduce pollution, control invasive species, and implement sustainable management practices in the area.

The ultimate goal is to preserve the uniqueness and beauty of the Everglades for future generations, while ensuring the preservation of its extraordinary flora and fauna.