The FIU Nature Preserve is an 11-acre environmental education facility, representing the Florida Everglades. It is used to share ecological knowledge gained by university researchers with FIU students and the community.
Three distinct ecosystems provide habitat for the 13 endangered plants, 15 threatened plants, and the other 238 plants and animals that call this place home. There is also an organic fruit and vegetable garden that attracts many people, and pollinators, to this part of campus. View our Flora and Fauna inventories. Be a citizen scientist and record your bird sightings on our ebird page!
Great historic geologic formations still exist here today and are on display for all to see. Their fascinating designs bring visitors back to an ancient Miami that has long been lost due to development. Learn more about the FIU Nature Preserve’s history.
For it’s diverse collection of flora (plants) and fauna (animals) the FIU Nature Preserve has received various local, state, and national recognitions:
- Wildlife Habitat (NWF)
- Butterfly Garden (NABA)
- Conservation Land (FNAI)
- Environmental Education Center (PLT)
- Connect To Protect Network Member (FTBG)
- Florida-Friendly Landscape – GOLD level (UF-IFAS)
- Demonstration Stewardship Forest (FFS)
- Florida Native Plant Society Landscape
Pine Rocklands once covered much of present-day Miami-Dade county. Now, this habitat only remains throughout the county in small fragmented forest preserves. This ecosystem typically has a very open canopy, dominated by slash pine, a dense shrub layer, and a beautifully diverse understory layer of wildflowers, grasses, and herbs.
Tropical Hardwood Hammocks
There’s no better place in the US to experience the feeling of being inside a tropical rainforest than being in a hardwood hammock during the summertime. Tropical hardwood hammocks were historically found on elevated tree islands in the Florida Everglades. This habitat contains a diverse mixture of tropical and temperate plants which form lush, green, densely vegetated shrub and canopy layers.
The Florida Everglades, also known as the “River of Grass” functions as one enormous, complex wetland. Although the overall hydrology has been greatly disrupted by human intervention, the inland (freshwater) Everglades still contains very important wetland habitats like: dwarf cypress swamps, pond apple forests, and sawgrass prairies. Some of these areas are only wetlands (flooded) seasonally.
This hands-on teaching laboratory provides agroecology students the opportunity to put what they are learning, about food production and its relationship to the natural environment, into practice.
The primary purpose of the Nature Preserve is to serve as an outdoor classroom. Each year many FIU classes, as well as other groups (other local college classes, grade school classes, environmental clubs, and summer camps) take field trips to the FIU Nature Preserve to experience a piece of the Florida Everglades and better understand the species that they may be learning about in books and in powerpoint presentations.
This large urban, open, green space plays a key role in the social well-being of the FIU community. It provides a beautiful environment filled with clean air for students and staff to explore and enjoy. Over 30,000 visitors each year come to hike, exercise, picnic, photograph wildlife, paint/draw natural landscapes, practice martial arts, do yoga, and play musical instruments. It is also home to mountain biking, trail running, and even some 5K’s, for those looking for a more, energized way to experience the Everglades.
Surrounding the Nature Preserve is a 0.6-mile Jogging Path accompanied by six workout stations. The trail itself is made of approximately 5,640 recycled tires, the ground material offers pedestrians and joggers better traction and a softer surface that is better for feet, ankles, and knees. For more information, visit the Wellness & Recreation website.
Each year many 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 donate their time as well.
With so many opportunities to experience the FIU Nature Preserve, you too can see what makes volunteering here so rewarding. Register nowfor a volunteer day or two this semester! View the Volunteer Schedule here. Have questions about volunteering? Check out our Volunteering FAQs. If you or your child is under the age of 18 please print and sign the Volunteer Waiver and bring to the volunteer day if the parent or guardian will not be in attendance.
Visiting the Preserve
The Preserve is open 7 days a week from dawn to dusk to all visitors. We encourage everyone to come to visit the Preserve whether it’s for recreational or educational purposes!
Hosting an Event at the Nature Preserve
Interested in hosting a party, fundraiser, educational workshop at the Preserve? Would you like a guided tour led by our naturalist? Please fill our the appropriate event request form. We would love to have you.