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Times of the Islands Magazine

Discussions About Preserving and Protecting Southwest Florida at the 2022 SWFL Climate Summit

May 06, 2022 09:17AM ● By Stephanie Hatley

Photo Courtesy of CHNEP website

In early April, community members gathered for the 2022 Southwest Florida Climate Summit in downtown Fort Myers with hopes of learning more about how to prepare for increasing climate change. With a projected increase in population of 36% over the next 25 years, there’s an immediate need to protect the drinking water sources. The South Florida Water Management District presented information about how all community members must work together to improve Florida’s climate resilience.

Even Senator Marco Rubio joined via Zoom. He updated the group about his bill to restore coral reefs by allocating more money toward coral restoration. Jennifer Hecker, the executive director for Coastal and Heartland National Estuary Partnership, explained even further, “There is some urgency; we need to double down and really get serious about doing these investments right now to reduce the level of impacts that we are seeing already occurring and going to continue to occur in our communities.”

Another issue is protecting wildlife habitats. An increase in residents means an increase in land development, which can lead to habitat destruction. Planning ahead and building thoughtfully will help maintain wildlife resiliency. “This means not building in places that are most critical to connecting wildlife habitats. It means not building in the most sensitive, rare ecosystems. It means building thoughtfully in places that are maybe already somewhat disturbed or closer to existing cities, and clustering our development,” said Joshua Daskin, the director of conservation at Archbold Biological Station.

Climate change is going to affect Florida communities. By educating local citizens, everyone can do their part to preserve the drinking water and protect the wildlife habitats.

For more information about the 2022 Summit and the Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership, visit where you can learn more about how to get involved in your local community.