Introduction to GEER
The Greater Everglades is an interlinked chain
of natural and human ecosystems from the
Kissimmee River at the top through Lake
Okeechobee, the Loxahatchee and St. Lucie
estuaries to the east and the Caloosahatchee
Estuary to the west, southward to the Everglades
and Florida Bay, with the Keys and Dry Tortugas
at the bottom; and, from Biscayne Bay and other
coastal systems on the east to Big Cypress, Ten
Thousand Islands and other coastal systems on
The Greater Everglades
comprises more than one and a half million acres of natural
landscape – or roughly 10,800 square miles spanning the
southern third of Florida. It is a complex ecosystem, and as
we move into the next decade “Facing Tomorrow’s Challenges”,
it is more critical than ever that we reinforce the
significant linkage between Planning, Policy and Science
towards implementing sustainable restoration of Florida’s
In fact, as we more closely examine Florida’s ever-changing
Greater Everglades landscape, we see a model living
laboratory for assessing and predicting change.
Florida Everglades is a complex ecosystem. Once
spanning four million acres, the Everglades have
shrunk to half that amount. Ecosystem decline began
with draining wetlands for irrigation channels.
Hurricane-related ﬂooding in the 1920s
accelerated drainage projects, culminating in the
Congressionally-authorized Central and Southern
Florida (C&SF) Flood Control Project in 1948, which
further fragmented the Everglades.
the past two decades, the Florida Legislature and
Congress have enacted several laws and programs
aimed at restoring the Greater Everglades ecosystem.
In 2000, the U.S. Congress authorized the
Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP),
expected to be implemented over the next four
Hence, the theme for the
GEER 2010 Conference, “The Greater
Everglades: A Living Laboratory of Change”.
That change comes in many forms . . .
Degradation Change, Restoration Change, Human Influence
Change, Threatened and Endangered Species Change, Invasive
Species Change, Nutrients-Contaminants Change, Climate
Change, Change in Sea Level Rise and Natural Hazard
Change. All of these “Changes” are actively impacting the
Greater Everglades. It is imperative we understand change so
we can predict change (Science), that we integrate the ‘Science
of change’ into Planning for the future; and, that we
use Science and Planning to help us move forward with
effective Policy for a sustainable future.
valuable forum for restoration practitioners to do just
that, and gives private, public and tribal decision makers,
engineers, planners, resource managers, and scientists, an
opportunity to share their knowledge and challenges
concerning restoration of this national treasure – the
Greater Everglades. We encourage you to participate in this
important endeavor and be part of the dialogue.