In March 2015, an exhaustive 10-year report by the The Institute for Regional Conservation revealed that close to 60 “rarest of the rare” and endangered plants, many of which used to flourish in South Florida, are now barely clinging to existence in the Everglades. The study, authored by chief conservation strategist for The Institute for Regional Conservation, George D. Gann, looked at any species that were in peril or had been in Florida historically and were possibly wiped out, along with federally endangered species. The study also concluded that orchids and ferns remain the most imperiled plants, with poaching, and rising sea levels by climate change, among the primary causes.
Gann’s detailed report focused primarily on 59 out of more than 760 species found in the Everglades National Park and nearby protected areas. It was conducted to help find a way to manage threatened plants that are found in and outside of the park. In a video produced by the Miami Herald, Gann stated that while he is not surprised by the findings, he did discover that rare plants are not just one group, but that within a plant lies a sub species. They include trees, shrubs, vines, orchids, wildflowers and grasses. Gann also discovered “hot spots” of rare plants regarding their geographic location. And while more than half of the species have been extinct or endangered, Gann is hopeful that opportunities to remove invasive exotic plants or restore the depleted ones are in the works with the help of park managers and environmentalists.
On Monday, Getty Images photographer Joe Raedle accompanied Gann and Jim Sadle, a botanist for the Everglades National Park, through the park as they closely examined several species of rare and endangered plants.