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Rushing to Save South Florida's Slash Pine

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Rushing to Save South Florida's Slash Pine

Rushing to Save South Florida's Slash Pine

Rushing to Save South Florida's Slash Pine

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4133493/4144573" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

A small habitat in southern Florida protects one of the most endangered forest types in the world — the pine rocklands, home of the rare slash pine. In a huge stroke of luck, the fragile habitat dodged each of the four hurricanes that hammered the state this year.

NPR's Ari Shapiro profiles a University of Miami biologist who's not content to rely on luck to save the rare ecosystem before the next hurricane strikes. Dr. Daniel Wong is on a mission to protect Pinus elliottii, a breed of tall, skinny trees once common in the region.

Commercial development and Mother Nature — especially the devastation wrought by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 — killed all but an estimated 1 percent of the original tree population. Wong is trying to get a "genetic map" of the species before another hurricane wipes them out altogether.

A stand of slash pine in a southern Florida pine rocklands habitat. Ari Shapiro, NPR hide caption

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Ari Shapiro, NPR