Strategic Planning to Acquire and Manage Ecological Coordinators in Urbanizing Hillsborough County

        Strategic Planning to Acquire and Manage Ecological Coordinators in Urbanizing Hillsborough County

          Article Summary

          The Florida Legislature passed the 1985 Growth Management Act in response to sustained rapid development. The Act required development of comprehensive land use plans for every county within the state. The comprehensive plans were required to have goals, objectives and policies aimed at, among other things, the conservation of vital natural resources.

          Hillsborough County’s comprehensive plan established the Significant Wildlife Habitat Program. The program is applicable to large tracts and can only protect a portion of a landowner’s upland habitat at the time of development. Those habitats that were protected have become more isolated over time and lack consistent management, reducing their ecological function. The county’s comprehensive plan also set the context for public acquisition and management of natural areas which began in 1987. Even though the County had acquired land for preservation, it did not have a detailed conservation plan that addressed future preservation/management needs to defend these assets, and county executives were questioning the feasibility of further acquisition of natural areas and the retention of several existing sites. 

          To protect the County’s investment in preservation, staff, in conjunction with the University of Florida, and two committees (technical and public) developed a strategic plan that addresses acquisition, management, and community support/inclusion. This case study describes the resulting strategic plan, which led to more in-depth studies that show the value of preservation (ecosystem services) and identify the most important conservation/corridor landscapes that should be acquired to provide a resilient, sustainable resource that can be effectively managed in perpetuity.

          In a nutshell, this resource offers:

          • An approach and timeline for creating and using a strategic plan to guide conservation actions on a regional basis.
          • Ideas for tapping into resources offered by state governments and universities to accomplish local goals.
          • Ecosystem service valuations that catalyzed more funding from County Commissioners.

          How to use this resource:

          • As an example for why and how to create a strategic plan to prioritize conservation acquisitions and management.
          • As an example for an approach to building a compelling case for investment in urban nature.

          Author: Ross B. Dickerson and Shawn College

          Date published:  2020

          Point of contact: Ross B. Dickerson Hillsborough County Conservation and Environmental Lands Management,

          Citation: Dickerson, R. B. and College, S. 2020. The Value of Strategic Planning to Prioritize Acquisition and Management of Ecological Coordinators in an Urbanizing County – Hillsborough County (Tampa), FL. Cities and the Environment (CATE): Vol. 13: Iss. 1, Article 7.

          Resource is available online here.


          Your browser does not support here to download