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The 2018 Pine Rocklands Working Group Conference brought together scientists, educators, land managers, policy makers, naturalists, students, and concerned citizens alike, with one overarching goal in mind – expanding the footprint of pine rocklands restoration.

The fitting theme for this year’s conference touches on the urgent need to reverse the trend of diminishing extent and integrity of globally imperiled pine rocklands through restoration efforts.

By unifying this community, the conference provided the unique opportunity to discuss not only how to protect, restore and effectively manage what is left of the pine rocklands, but also how to share collective knowledge and discuss how to restore pinelands where they have been destroyed.

As the conference organizers explain, in order to mobilize public support, and thus save pine rocklands and their species from local and global extinction, it is crucial to effectively communicate what is at stake.

From a delicious dinner reception at The Kampong, to renowned keynote speakers, innovative research presentations, and fascinating field trips, the 5-day conference did not disappoint.

Following the reception dinner, the first two days of the conference featured the International Tropical Plant Symposium and the Pine Rocklands Conference. These two full days of presentations focused on tropical plant biology and the restoration of Pine Rocklands, and were held in the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (FTBG) “Garden House” auditorium. Presenters and moderators included FIU and University of Miami (UM) graduate students as well as International Center for Tropical Botany (ICTB), FIU Tropics, and UM professors.

Our distinguished guest, keynote speaker Dr. Robert Marquis from UMSL showed how much we can learn from long-term natural history studies in any area. A long-time tropical ecologist, he has been studying insects on oaks in the Ozarks for more than twenty years, and has a great system for many interesting ecological experiments,” describes biology professor and one of the conference organizers Dr. Suzanne Koptur. 

“The second joint meeting of Tropical Botany and Pine Rocklands was also a great success!” continues Dr. Koptur. “The Tropical Botany Day was well attended, but the second Pine Rockland Day was nearly standing room only as the ranks swelled with members of the public, as well as many attendees from county, state, and federal agencies.”

In addition to these two symposia, the conference offered attendees local field trips to places like Everglades National Park (ENP), Big Pine Key, and Florida City Pineland Preserve, among other unique South Florida sites. The last few days featured an evening social, as well as a private landowners workshop and FTBG’s annual Connect to Protect Network meeting.

Learn more about the 2018 Pine Rocklands Working Group Conference: Expanding the Footprint by visiting the conference site.

This conference was co-sponsored by FTBG, Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL), ICTB, The Kampong, Pine Ridge Sanctuary, ENP, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Institute for Regional Conservation, and the Nature Conservancy. Some students were funded via the Levine Trust.