Chris Demers, UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation

Private lands in Florida provide a wide variety of services that benefit society, including economic activity, clean air, groundwater recharge, fish and wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, water filtration, recreational opportunities and improved quality of life. The owners of these lands are stewards with diverse goals and objectives for their properties, which often include some combination of agriculture, forestry, and wildlife habitat management and conservation. 

The economic contribution of these lands across Florida is tremendous.  A recent UF/IFAS economic study found that Florida’s agriculture, natural resources and related industries generate a total output contribution of over $198 billion per year. The employment impact of these enterprises is nearly 2 million full-time and part-time jobs, representing around 20% of all jobs in the state (Hodges, 2014).  Florida’s private land stewards own about 65% of Florida’s timberland, over 10 million acres total across the state (Nowak, 2013).  Many of these constituents need information and services to help them maintain greenbelt property tax assessment, plan for the future of their land and enterprise, diversify income, and conserve wildlife and natural resource values.

Get acquainted with these constituents and those who serve them.  Organizations like the University of Florida IFAS, Florida Forest Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and others are now working together as the Florida Land Steward Partnership. The Partnership supports the management and conservation efforts of private landowners by providing technical and financial assistance, developing resource management and conservation plans, and disseminating information through newsletters, websites, field days, and other means.  You can easily connect with the Partnership’s network of landowners, foresters, natural resource professionals and others involved with private lands stewardship.  Weekly or biweekly email updates are sent with a calendar of upcoming events, news brief, a link to the quarterly Florida Land Steward newsletter, and links to other partner websites where more information can be found.  If you are interested in this information and would like to be included in these regular updates, or if you simply want more information, email or call Chris Demers, cdemers@ufl.edu, (352) 846-2375. 

Hodges, A. 2014. Economic contributions of agriculture, natural resources and related food industries in Florida in 2012. University of Florida. Gainesville. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fe954

Nowak, J. 2013. 2011 Florida’s Forestry and Forest Product Industry Economic Impacts.  Florida Forest Service. Tallahassee.