The world would not be the same without Everglades National Park! That is not just the opinion of millions of people from all over the world who love the park. It is also solemnized through five prestigious international designations that few areas receive. Everglades National Park was designated as an International Biosphere Reserve in 1976, a World Heritage Site in 1979, a Wetland of International Importance in 1987, a World Heritage Sites in Danger in 1993, and a Specially Protected Area under the Cartagena Convention in 2012.
These international designations honor an elite few areas in the world and demonstrate the special place the park holds in worldwide reverence. The park received these international designations for several reasons, among them being that it contains “outstanding universal values of benefit to humanity.” Pretty heady stuff.
Everglades National Park Is Exceptional – “Excepcional!”
Obviously all national parks are special, so what’s so exceptional about Everglades National Park? It is the largest national park east of the Rocky Mountains and the third largest in the lower 48 (second only to Yellowstone and Death Valley). Everglades National Park was established due to its unparalleled biological diversity (unlike other national parks set aside due to their majestic scenery). Congress recognized the park’s benefit to the people in preserving the ecological functions and integrity of a representative portion of the original Everglades watershed. (The Everglades watershed is widely known as the “Greater Everglades Ecosystem,” and starts at the headwaters of Lake Okeechobee. The lake originally overflowed south through sawgrass to Florida Bay, hence the title, “River of Grass.” This area consists of 18,000 square miles. Everglades National Park is at the southern end of this watershed, and is approximately 2,400 square miles. Many people use the term “Everglades” without clarifying which area they are talking about, so sometimes clarification is needed…)
Everglades National Park Is …Mostly Wilderness “sobre todo desierto”
All national parks are protected areas; but not all receive another layer of permanent protection through wilderness designation. In 1978, Congress set aside 86 percent of the park as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness. Spanning the southern tip of the Florida peninsula and most of Florida Bay, Everglades National Park is the only subtropical wilderness in North America.
Wilderness designation preserves essential primitive conditions including the natural abundance, diversity, behavior, and ecological integrity of the area’s flora and fauna. As America’s subtropical wilderness, it is a mosaic of unparalleled diversity. It provides refuge for fourteen endangered and nine threatened species, such as the manatee, crocodile and Florida panther. It is known for its rich wildlife, particularly large wading birds, and is the only place in the world where both alligators and crocodiles coexist.
The park has also been cited for being the most significant breeding ground for tropical wading birds in North America and containing the largest mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere.
World Heritage Site -“Patrimonio de la Humanidad”
Based on this history of protective layers as a national park and then as a designated wilderness, it is no surprise that Everglades National Park was among the first to be inscribed on the list of World Heritage Sites. This demonstrates the importance, for all the peoples of the world, to safeguard the park as a unique and irreplaceable property unlike anywhere else in the world!
World Heritage Site in Danger– “Patrimonio Mundial en Peligro”
Everglades National Park is also recognized as the most threatened U.S. national park, due primarily to hydrological alterations upstream in the Greater Everglades Ecosystem. This has disrupted downstream water flow into the park with serious ecological consequences. In 1993, at the request of the United States government, the park was inscribed on the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger. The park is working with partners on every level of government to implement restoration strategies and eventually remove it from the World Heritage Endangered List.
Also a Magnet for Tourism– “Te Amo, el Parque Nacional Everglades!”
These five international designations elevate Everglades National Park’s prominence and provide another important layer of special protection: “International Biosphere Reserve,” “World Heritage Site,” “Wetland of International Importance,” “World Heritage Site in Danger,” and “Specially Protected Area under the Cartagena Convention.”
These international designations are also a magnet for tourists from all over the world who love the Everglades! Part of the great fun for visitors is hearing many different foreign languages being spoken! Statistics are not broken down by originating countries, but as an international magnet for tourism, 1,141, 906 visitors came in 2012, who spent approximately $103 million in nearby communities, supporting 1,402 jobs in the local area. That’s international designations really “hitting home!”
The world would not be the same without Everglades National Park! We hope you will come and see for yourself. Join the chorus of voices from all over the world saying (in their own language), “I love you, Everglades National Park!”
• French – JE T’AIME, Parc national des Everglades
• German – ICH LIEBE DICH, Everglades National Park
• Haitian Creole – MWEN RENMEN OU, Everglades National Park
• Italian- TI AMO, Parco nazionaledelle Everglades
• Portuguese – EU TE AMO, Everglades National Park
• Spanish- TE AMO, el Parque Nacional Everglades
Mary Plumb is a Public Affairs Specialist at Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks.
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