The Institute for Regional Conservation (IRC) is dedicated to the protection, restoration, and long-term management of biodiversity on a regional basis, and to the prevention of regional extinctions of rare plants, animals and ecosystems. Founded in 1984, IRC promotes an innovative approach to conservation. We seek to protect - and restore - viable populations of all plant and animal species within a region by designing conservation strategies powered by rich, geographically-distributed data. Our approach adds critical value to traditional conservation strategies focused on charismatic animals or species with small global ranges. This work is especially important in regions of the world where rapid fragmentation of habitats has been experienced, or is expected. For more than two decades we have focused our field work in Florida and the Caribbean, but we are also engaged in high-level dialog on ecological restoration and biodiversity targets more broadly around the world. We work in four domains: developing regional conservation models to advise and direct conservation strategies by diverse actors across broad regions; applied conservation science for researchers and land managers; ecological restoration and management; and, engaging with local communities to bring this work to fruition in the context of sustainability.
IRC Staff installing a bat monitoring device in pine rockland habitat in Miami-Dade County as part of a site survey. Based on the threatened and endangered flora and fauna observed during surveys, IRC wrote a management plan for successfully conserving the rare piece of pine rockland habitat.
IRC Education and Outreach Coordinator, Cara Abbott, and Board Member, John Campanola, took students on a pollinator field trip to teach them about native pollinators and their host plants.
IRC Pine Rockland Initiative Coordinator, Maha Nusrat, IRC board member, Patty Phares, and IRC Education and Outreach Coordinator, Cara Abbott worked with volunteers to help restore a private pine rockland in spring 2017.
IRC Chief Conservation Strategist, George Gann, and Senior Botanist, Carlos Trejo, with guests in Puerto Rico during the launch of IRC's Puerto Rico database.
IRC Chief Conservation Strategist, George Gann, and Entomologist, Sandy Koi at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden for a butterly symposium with other local butterly experts and guests from the University of Montana.
Applied Conservation Science
IRC's staff includes talented and experienced field biologists with advanced degrees and years of experience in South Florida ecosystems. We use our knowledge and expertise to conduct longterm baseline studies, conservation assessments, and develop management plans. IRC follows the principle of Adaptive Management and focuses of conserving species at a regional level.
Ecological Restoration and Management
IRC's Ecological Restoration and Management (ERM) program works with public and private land owners and managers to control invasive exotic vegetation and restore native South Florida habitat. We have two main offices, one in Big Pine Key which services all of the Florida Keys and another based in Miami, Florida which services all of mainland South Florida. The work of ERM includes contracts with State and Federal agencies as well as work with private land owners.
Regional Conservation Models
IRC's mission demands that we conserve entire ecosystems and all the species found within them, not only the charismatic species. To this end, IRC had developed innovative models of regional conservation. From our studies and inventories we have developed multiple online databases. Our online databases serve as important tools for students, researchers, land managers, and landowners. We continue to work to expand our inventories and improve our databases.
Education and Outreach
IRC’s Education and Outreach Program serves to promote conservation in the real world by providing public education and nurturing a community of supporters to help us achieve our mission. This program strives to connect IRC to the community by translating the technical science that is being conducted into understandable, usable information for our South Florida neighbors through social media and hands-on events. Our regular education and outreach programs include volunteer days like our recent beach restoration events in Delray Beach, presentations at local events like Bird and Butterfly Day in Miami and formal talks at various groups and societies like chapters of the Native Plant Society.