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Human impacts of Florida

The State of Florida's landscape was mostly made up of a largely forested area, prairies, and the large wetland area now referred to as the Everglades. Throughout its landscape small rivers, swamps and naturally occurring lakes and springs made up the state. At the time the area was inhabited by the native indigenous tribes of Florida. These tribes lead a mostly subsistence-based lifestyle. A subsistence-based lifestyle consists mostly of basic farming that would provide enough food for one family unit. This way of living minimally impacted the landscape as most of the time only fertile areas of non-swamp land were utilized as the technology to drain large portions of lands and redirect water were still not widely available.
Over time, with the colonization of Florida, more and more people started to become attracted to the area. Once the technology to drain and redirect extensive areas of swamp land presented itself more and more came to lay claims to acres of land for future development. These large influxes of peoples led to the mass manipulation of the Florida landscape thus altering it permanently. Many of the activities that took place dealt with the diversion, draining or redirecting of water through the creation of various types of water ways like canals or manmade lakes, the cutting down of forests and the conversion of lands from natural to agricultural use. This intense and highly complex manipulation of the landscape caused quite a few problems for the native species of animals living there even though it solved many problems for the many new populations of people that would come to live there.
Water is an important and highly valued resources. It is used for farming, providing electricity, as well as plumbing, cleaning, drinking, bathing and many other things. This poses problems for the natural environment. Bodies of water, like lakes or ponds, are drained for the creation of homes or other facilities. Water can also be redirected so that certain areas that are creating new businesses or that have a large population of people moving in can have fresh clean water going directly to them instead of having to import water from other areas or buy it in large quantities to store for personal or commercial use.
In the natural environment many animal species depend on the regular flow of water as well as specific bodies of water for their survival. Draining small lakes, ponds, and river beds gets rid of a habitat that many different species of fish, alligators, insects, and other animals were dependent on for their survival. Likewise redirecting water poses just as great a threat to native species, as it does to us. When water is redirected the original flow becomes disrupted, and limits the amount of water that can be obtained at other areas.
Runoff of pesticides, fertilizers, and chemicals from farming, factories, households, commercial and industrial uses causes imbalances within ecosystems. Toxic chemical runoff and byproducts from decomposing materials and foods can contaminate water supplies. Most importantly these chemicals, like mercury, wreak havoc in fisheries and cause problems like infertility, mutations, and sometimes death of the fish. Large agricultural and farming communities, as well as urban areas leak pollutants directly into the water supply that can then flow through natural environments. When pesticides and fertilizers get into the water plants are affected too. Fertilizers often contain phosphorus which can lead to an increase in growth of some water borne plants and foliage. This abnormally rapid growth can in turn cause other populations of water borne plants to dwindle because of competition for space.
Forests provide many benefits to the environment. They create habitats for small and large animals, insects and small organisms like bacteria and fungi that feed on decomposing tree trunks. They also store carbon. Forests are like giant banks of stored carbon. When forests are cut down in large quantities tons and tons of previously stored carbon is released into the atmosphere. Aside from storing vast amounts of carbon they also help prevent soil erosion. Areas that have been dry and arid with bare exposed soil can be recovered by planting trees around a buffer area to prevent further soil erosion. With proper care, maintenance, and patience the area can be recovered.
Deforestation is the removal of all or some trees from an area of forest for use as something else. Florida is known for having a variety of different ecosystems aside from the wet marshlands called the Everglades. It is also home to a variety of different kinds of forests. The trees and wood obtained from these forests are used for the construction of furniture, homes, or can be sold as individually sized boards and shapes for construction. In order to obtain these large amounts of wood whole sections of trees need to be cut down. Sometimes trees are cut down simply to get to an area of preference. Another reason for cutting down large sections of trees is for the construction of new homes or buildings in an aesthetically pleasing area. "Florida has lost 22% of forests since 1953 (a loss of 1.6 million ha).