River of grass
According to ACT-TEST-CENTERS, Everglades National Park is located in southern Florida, in the southeastern United States. Up to 1.2 million people visit the national park every year. The area of the protected area is about 5,660 km². The national park in the Everglades was founded in 1947. The protected area extends from Lake Okeechobee further north to the southern end of the Florida peninsula. The water of Everglades National Park, also known as the ” River of Grass “, flows imperceptibly slowly from the Florida hinterland, from Lake Okeechobee, towards the south towards the sea.
Airboat underway in the Florida Everglades
Everglades swamps… and cacti
The Everglades National Park in Florida does not only consist of swamps, it has different vegetation zones. Seagrass and hardwoods grow in the brackish, muddy water on small elevations in Florida Bay. The soils in the coastal area are very salty, but yuccas, agaves and various types of cacti grow there. Everglades National Park is primarily a vast swamp area. The Everglades’ water comes from Lake Okeechobee, the largest lake in the US state of Florida. The lake is located in southern Florida between the cities of Miami and Orlando. The water area of Lake Okeechobee is 1,890 km². The lake has only smaller, natural outflows. As a result, there have been numerous, long-lasting floods in the past; ultimately resulting in the swamps of the Everglades. The flat land in Florida, which slopes almost imperceptibly to the south, was decisive for the emergence of the swampy area. As a result, the water drains slowly, which promotes the formation of swamps.
People are endangering the flora and fauna that are worth protecting
Due to the increasing population of Florida, especially the coastal metropolises, as well as agricultural businesses, too much water was taken from Lake Okeechobee. The result was severe water shortages in the Everglades swamps. The state of Florida therefore bought up the farms by 2008 in order to end the water shortage in the Everglades National Park and to secure the natural heritage for the future. They have not really been successful to date, and it will be a long time before the sensitive ecosystems are restored.
Swamp mangrove landscape in Everglades National Park
Everglades Visitor Center
One of the national park’s visitor centers, located west of Florida City, is an easy hour’s drive from the city of Miami. From there, the visitor can explore nature in the Everglades National Park on various nature trails. There are other visitor centers in the middle of the protected area. The Royal Palm, Flamingo, Everglades City, Gulf Coast, and Ernest Coe Visitor Centers offer a wealth of Everglades-themed information and exhibits. For tourists, the recommended time to visit Everglades National Park is from December to April. During this time, the number of flying bloodsuckers in the swamp area, the mosquitoes, is still tolerable.
Everglades and Recreation
Everglades National Park in Florida is open all year round. Canoe and boat trips are offered on the waterways in the sanctuary. There are beautifully landscaped hiking trails and cycle paths around the town of Flamingo. There are numerous hiking trails throughout the Everglades region. Guided tours of the national park are offered from the visitor center. Fishing is a popular pastime in Everglades National Park. Fishing rods and boats can be borrowed. A fishing license from the park administration is required in any case. There are two campgrounds available for visitors to Everglades National Park. There are also lectures on the history and nature of the Everglades. Camping away from the campsites is only permitted with the permission of the park administration.
Green Heron in the mangrove forests of the Everglades
Everglades – also important for migratory birds
The flora and fauna of Everglades National Park in Florida is truly unique. There are over 100 species of mammals and numerous species of reptiles. In addition, 500 species of fish and over 300 species of birds were counted. Crocodiles, alligators, cougars, raccoons, eagles, cormorants, snakes, flamingos, turtles and manatees are the most famous animals in Everglades National Park. The Everglades are very important for migratory birds. Numerous bird species come from North America, which is cold in winter, to spend the winter in the Everglades in Florida.
Everglades – Cypress Swamps
The core zone in Everglades National Park in Florida includes the freshwater area of the park, the cypress swamps. There, sedge dominates the picture of the plant world, the area is completely submerged by low water. These wide, wet plains are only interrupted by smaller, overgrown limestone islands. The highest point in the park is just 2.4 meters above sea level. The dense forest areas of the swamps are very species-rich. The eastern area of the Everglades National Park, on the other hand, can be described as dry. There are pine forests that thrive on the sandy soil. The transitions between the individual vegetation zones are also interesting for researchers. The constant race for habitat between the different animal species and plant communities is very interesting for science.
Typical ecosystem in the national park – cypresses in the water
Everglades – endangered ecosystem
The Everglades have since been re-listed by UNESCO as one of the world’s endangered ecosystems due to continued and severe human impacts on the protected area’s aquatic system. As early as 1993, UNESCO assessed the condition of the Everglades as extremely problematic, since the system was permanently damaged by Hurricane Andrew, as well as urban development and growing agriculture in the Everglades catchment area. The area was initially removed from the Endangered Areas List in 2007 due to the State of Florida’s efforts to preserve the Everglades’ ecosystem.
Endangerment of the Everglades persists
Continued heavy water extraction, as well as increased use of pesticides and fertilizers from agriculture, is having a devastating effect on the almost stagnant waters of the Everglades. The pollutants sink to the bottom and accumulate. Likewise, the development up to the borders of the Everglades National Park is extremely problematic for the deep-sea communities and the flora living there. Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical sanctuary in all of North America. The numerous mixed systems at the transition of the different ecosystems within the national park make the Everglades truly unique. In addition, the ecosystems of the Everglades National Park are constantly changing. The evolution of biological processes is continuously active in the Everglades,
The water of the Everglades in the coastal area is a mixture of fresh and salt water, or the water there is relatively low in salt in contrast to the water of the Atlantic. The extremely important mangrove forests grow in this mixed zone. For one, the mangroves are a gigantic water filter. On the other hand, the mangrove forest on the coast is a network of roots and branches that serve as breeding grounds and growth zones for fish and reptiles, both freshwater and marine fauna.