Here in the Keys, mixed with tourists drawn by the endless sunshine and inviting year-round warm weather, are the restaurants, bars, hotels, boutiques, gardens, unique butterflies, Key Deer, manatees, porpoises, turtles, stingrays, sharks, countless tiny tropical reef species, coral mountains, and graceful purple sea fans. The array of life that parades in front of tourists and locals alike is a spectacle that continues to amaze, as if each time were your first. Nature and the Keys are inseparable, including humans who are one constituent in the wonderful and inspiring ever-changing local ecosystem.
Now is the time to refocus on what exactly is drawing millions of people from around the world to our unique island community, so that we may again prepare and plan for another successful year. They come because the Keys are Mother Nature’s “Poster Child”. A brilliant beacon and glowing global eco-icon…well sort of! We do have the sad state of our reef, the green canal water, the endocrine disrupters, loss of diadema (sea urchins), the invasion of lionfish, pythons, ever increasing road and water traffic and a few other minor issue to think about.
In order to protect what we love, we need to refocus on our sustainability goals; as individuals, as families, as a community, as a tourist destination, as business owners, as property owners, and as stewards of this beautiful jewel, the Southernmost United States. The first step is to enlighten ourselves and our visitors in the ways these wonderful ecosystems work together, so that our human goals and objectives harmonize with the chorus of constituents in our environment. Many in our community fabric work tirelessly in the pursuit of protecting our ecosystems. They are our resident experts and most are unsung heroes, diligently working behind the scenes; networking, researching, attending board meetings, directing funds to needy causes, and the building of resources. Education is a critical part of our mission in this regard.
As a coalition, we are a group of organizations, businesses and individuals ultimately working toward the same goals. Rebranding the Florida Keys as an eco-destination makes logical sense and should be a major strategic goal of our tourism marketing. We should share what we do with the world and lead by example.
Our community wants to be focused on returning our coral reefs and ecosystems to their healthiest condition. While the Keys are already an eco-destination, we could become more sustainable. We can work together to protect it and make it perpetually successful. It matters to all of us. This is our jewel, our responsibility, our challenge. Welcome to the Florida Keys Environmental Coalition. We are happy to have you on board. Let’s polish this Green Jewel known as the Florida Keys into the world’s most beautifully preserved, cooperative ecosystem for future generations!