Welcome to the FIU Nature Preserve
Experience the Everglades without ever leaving campus!
The FIU Nature Preserve is a 14-acre outdoor environmental education facility meant to advance the ecological knowledge of our student body and the community. This community forest provides excellent recreational opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and visitors.
Volunteers - scroll down to the bottom.
Where is it located?
It is located on the west side of the Modesto Maidique Campus (MMC) of Florida International University.
From Tamiami Trail/SW 8th Street
Three diverse ecosystems (Pine Rockland, Hardwood Hammock, and Freshwater Wetland) provide significant habitat for our 13 endangered plant species and 17 threatened plant species, as well as the other 452 plant and animal species we have living here. In addition to this there is also an organic fruit and vegetable garden which attracts many people as well as pollinators to this part of campus.
This land is unique because the soil has never been disturbed. Where most other parts of Miami have been dug up, filled in with sand, raised in elevation, and paved over, this special place has not. For more information on the history of the FIU Nature Preserve scroll to the bottom.
Below are some links to biological inventories that have been conducted here.
Pine rocklands are an imperiled ecosystem. Much of Miami-Dade county was once covered by these beautiful upland pine forests, but only fragments like this one still exist today, due to urban development and logging.
Typically these areas have an open understory with a canopy dominated by South Florida slash pine (Pinus elliottii).The understory often contains several species of palms and many beautiful flowering herbaceous plants.
Tropical Hardwood Hammocks
Hardwood hammocks are naturally found on tree islands in freshwater prairies. They contain large shade trees and many tropical, evergreen shrub species to create a dense understory and canopy.
Standing in a hardwood hammock is amazing, being surrounded by so many different shades of green and lush vegetation in every direction. These areas provide great wildlife habitat and are huge food sources as well.
The Florida Everglades is primarily a wetland. Freshwater wetlands occur inland from the coast and come in various forms. Some freshwater wetlands known as cypress swamps contain many large trees clustered around lower elevations, while others may contain very few trees at all.
These wetland ecosystems can be found nowhere else in the world with such a unique combination of tropical and temperate plants and wildlife. These creatures have adapted to the wet and dry seasons here, as have the people of south Florida whose drinking water is directly related to the hydrological cycles.
The FIU Organic Garden was established in 2009 as a research facility for the Agroecology Program in the Dept. of Earth & Environment.
It contains a shadehouse, nursery, meditation garden, herb garden, small fruit orchard, and eight large garden beds. Most of these areas are used for small research projects, yet some are used to produce crops that can be sold at the weekly FIU Organic Farmers Market.
The primary purpose of the Nature Preserve is to serve as an outdoor classroom. Each year many FIU science classes, as well as other school groups (Miami-Dade College, local high schools, local grade schools) take field trips to the FIU Nature Preserve to experience the Florida Everglades and see the species they are learning about in class.
There are many courses that use the Preserve on an irregular/unscheduled basis, but here is a summary of the FIU courses that consistently utilize the Nature Preserve:
BOT 1010L – Introductory Botany Lab
BOT 3154L – Local Flora Lab
BOT 3353L – Plant Morphology Lab
BOT 4601 – General Plant Ecology
BSC 1011L – General Biology II Lab
ENY 4060L – Entomology Lab
PCB 3043L – Ecology Lab
EVR 1001L – Introduction to Environmental Science Lab
EVR 1017 – The Global Environment and Society
EVR 3011L – Environmental Pollution Lab
EVR 3013L – Ecology of South Florida Lab
EVR 4272 – Agroecology
EVR 4274 – Sustainable Agriculture
EVR 4323L – Restoration Ecology Lab
EVR 4596L – Applied Field Ecology
College of Education: SCE 4310 – Teaching Elementary Science
Honors College: IDH 3034 – The Everglades: From beginning to end
This large urban, open/green space plays a key role in the social wellbeing of our FIU community. It provides a beautiful environment filled with clean air for students and staff to explore and enjoy. Visitors can work on photography, landscape painting, or practice a musical instrument here. It is also open to mountain biking and trail running for those looking for a more energized way to experience the Everglades.
It is an exciting venue for student organizations to hold their events, such as yoga classes, karate classes, fundraisers, egg-hunts, and haunted houses. Students can also gain community service hours for participating in our Nature Preserve Volunteer Days (see below). To schedule a meeting or event here, contact us at GoGreen@fiu.edu or call us at (305) 348-3717.
Each year approximately 1,000 people volunteer their time at the FIU Nature Preserve. Most of the volunteers are students, but there are also many FIU staff and local community members that volunteer as well. With countless opportunities to experience the Nature Preserve, you too can see what makes volunteering here so fun!