Florida Keys: Key Tree-Cactus Preserve
Key Tree cactus (Pilosocereus robinii).
Manatee. Florida Panther. Two well-known endangered species. We’ve helped with conservation efforts to save habitat for both these animals; but we’ve also helped with a land conservation project in the Florida Keys that not only saves a beautiful piece of property where people can enjoy Florida’s beautiful outdoors, it also protects an endangered cactus—that’s right, a cactus.
In 2009, we assisted in the permanent protection of the nine-acre Key Tree-Cactus Preserve. This preserve is named for the endangered Key tree cactus (Pilosocereus robinii) which is found only in parts of the Keys and possibly Cuba. The Key Tree-cactus population at the preserve is one of only eight such populations in the world. Recent surveys of the species conducted by the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden documented an 80 percent decline in the populations since they were initially surveyed in 1993.
The preserve will be open to the public for nature-based recreation. In addition to being part of the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail, the preserve is also a destination along the Keys Overseas Highway Heritage Trail and is located within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which encompasses 2,900 square miles.
With the protection of the Key Tree-Cactus Preserve, an endangered plant is protected while the local community and tourism industry benefits from additional managed recreational space. This conservation project was made possible through a partnership with the Village of Islamorada and the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.