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Ecological Threat to South Florida – Australian Pine

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The beachfront along the Key Biscayne Causeway looks rather different now with it’s ecosystem back in check.  The invasive Australian Pine  (introduced to South Florida in the late 1800’s)  no longer provides shade covering …  nor does it cause an ecological threat … having been intentionally downed and “mulched”.

I wonder if  the silty, mud-like consistency (as you wade into the water there)  will become more beachy/ sandy… without the pine needles and other contributions from the Australian Pine.  

Casuarina equisetifolia (as the Australian Pine is known) was blamed  for displacing native Florida plants, altering soil composition,  interfering with nesting sea turtles, and causing irreparable damage to the shore line  as a result of beach erosion.  The tall, spindly Australian Pine was introduced to Miami as a fast growing shade tree… capable of growing as much as 5-10  feet per year  and reaching heights of 100 feet  here in the tropics.  With a shallow root system though, the Australian Pines toppled easily in high winds (contributing to the downed debris from Hurricane Andrew).  Along the Key Biscayne Causeway… the Australian Pines are gone (intentionally now)…and  the ecosystem is back in balance.

Will the causeway ‘beach’  (which is still a ‘dog beach’) change with regard to their policy on dogs?   Beach-goers (and their pets) have (forever!) been able to swim, fish, boat and “bar-b-que”  along the entire length of the causeway… There has been no rule against taking dogs there… mainly because it’s not  (officially) considered a ‘beach’.  It’s simply the ’causeway’.   I wonder  if Key Biscayne  will plant native shade trees (palms) along the waterfront, and whether the sea turtles will nest there again.

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