Tom Hoctor is a landscape ecologist and conservation biologist who directs the Center for Landscape Conservation Planning at the University of Florida. Tom earned his undergraduate degree at Harvard University and his doctorate at the University of Florida. He’s recently undertaken the challenge of contributing to work on the Florida Wildlife Corridor. He’s also a friend of mine, from my hometown in Gainesville, and a kick-ass bird watcher. I asked him to answer a few questions for an ad-hoc series I hope to do here on Wild Muse that will explore the work of scientists, conservationists and their inspirations.
Florida has a unique history of settlement, development, and exploitation of natural resources. What do you think are the biggest defining conservation problems the state faces?
Sea level rise is likely the biggest problem that will define Florida’s future. Given the size of Florida’s coastal human population, and the extremely flat topography, Florida stands to be impacted more than any other state by sea level rise, and even a 1 meter rise in sea level could have catastrophic consequences. It is already extremely difficult to balance continued development with environmental conservation in Florida, but sea level rise will greatly complicate this balance with the potential shift of millions of people away from the coasts to currently rural inland areas that are extremely important for conservation. Continue reading