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Friday, June 27, 2014

Study: Roadside Vegetation Can Provide $1.5 BILLION in Ecosystem Services


A recently released Florida Department of Transportation study conservatively estimates that roadside vegetation along the state highway system performs nearly a half-billion dollars worth of ecosystem services. The study found that value would increase to $1 billion if sustainable vegetation management practices such as reduced mowing were adopted. The value would triple to $1.5 billion if wildflower areas were incorporated into roadside landscapes. Ecosystem services include carbon sequestration, runoff prevention, and support of crop pollinators and other insects, as well as contributions to air quality, invasive species resistance and roadside aesthetics.

Native roadside wildflowers in Florida's Panhandle
The Florida Wildflower Foundation requested the Florida Department of Transportation study on behalf of the Florida Native Plant Partnership, which includes the foundation, Florida Association of Native Nurseries, Florida Native Plant Society, and Florida Wildflower Plant and Seed Growers Association.

"These findings are a significant step toward fully understanding the benefits of vegetation, including wildflowers and native plant communities, along Florida's state highways. It's clear such vegetation, which is often viewed as a financial liability, has significant value to every Floridian in terms of the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the waterways and springs we enjoy," said Lisa Roberts, Florida Wildflower Foundation executive director.

SR 47 roadside view
Research found that the $33.5 million cost of vegetation management during FDOT's 2011-12 fiscal year was more than offset by the value of carbon sequestration alone, a service that potentially could generate income for FDOT with the sale of carbon credits. The University of Florida-IFAS report, "Economic Impact of Ecosystem Services Provided by Ecologically Sustainable Roadside Right of Way Vegetation Management Practices," also concluded that FDOT could reduce its costs by 30 percent by implementing sustainable management practices, such as reduced mowing. Jeff Caster, FDOT's State Transportation Landscape Architect, suggests, “The roadsides where wildflowers occur naturally may be the best places to reduce mowing.”

FDOT manages about 186,000 roadside acres - about one-half percent of Florida’s total area.

To view the full report, visit http://www.dot.state.fl.us/research-center/Completed_Proj/Summary_EMO/FDOT-BDK75-977-74-rpt.pdf

Press release by Lisa Roberts
Posted by Laurie Sheldon

2 comments:

  1. Where can we get these seeds? Is there a packet?

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    Replies
    1. Florida's Wildflower Growers Co-op, a project of the Florida Wildflower and Plant Growers Association, has many varieties of Florida native seeds by the seed packet and in bulk. Visit http://www.floridawildflowers.com/

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