Over the last decade approximately 100,000 new single-family, detached homes have been built annually in Florida, making it one of the most active areas of new residential community development in the United States. In the face of this rapid growth, many Florida communities are looking for support in how to preserve (and even enhance) their local quality of life. Collectively, urban communities can greatly affect our natural resources.
Decisions made by each homeowner interact in unique ways to affect the use and conservation of water, energy, and our plants and animals. The quantity and quality of water, wildlife habitat, and energy are closely tied to one another. For example, planting several native trees near a house can have several positive impacts. First, native trees provide food for wildlife. Second, they provide shade for the house to conserve energy. Plus, they conserve water because native trees are adapted to the local climate and do not need much watering. As a result, a homeowner saves time and money because he or she is not using as much water or energy. If each homeowner plants native trees, more local water and energy resources are conserved.
In fact, the way people design and manage their homes, yards, and neighborhoods can impact surrounding natural areas. For example, invasive exotic plants in individual yards can spread to surrounding natural areas. Also, watering lawns can cause the water table to draw down, drying up nearby wetlands.
The purpose of this document is to summarize sources of information from federal, state, and non-governmental organizations that provide technical assistance to urban landowners interested in conserving natural resources (Table 1). Additional information regarding natural resource conservation on properties is available on the UF/IFAS Extension Electronic Data Information Source (EDIS—https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/). Some highlighted EDIS documents are provided below:
- Tips on landscaping for wildlife: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/TOPIC_Landscaping_for_Wildlife
- Energy conservation tips: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/TOPIC_Saving_Energy
- Environmental landscaping: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/TOPIC_Enviroscaping
- Water conservation in the yard: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/TOPIC_Lawns_and_Water_Conservation
- Overall environmentally friendly living: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/TOPIC_Environmentally_Friendly_Living
- Water conservation tips: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/TOPIC_Lawns_and_Water_Conservation
- Conservation options (easements, etc.) for private landowners: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fr149
- Evaluating private lands for conservation: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/UW195
- The Green Leap: A Primer for Conserving Biodiversity in Subdivision Development. http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520271111
Organizations and programs available to urban communities to provide technical assistance for conservation of natural resources.