Environmentalists were very happy after a district court judge in Miami issued an injunction to prevent bulldozers from destroying an endangered forest, i.e. the pine rocklands in Florida, one of the rarest forests and also the home to unique species.
The bulldozers were there to make room for a Walmart shopping centre.
Court’s Decision Was to Prohibit Destruction of Land
Ursula Ungaro, the judge, made a ruling only several hours after the Center for Biological Diversity, Tropical Audubon Society, the Miami Pine Rocklands Coalition and the South Florida Wildlands Association sued the Trump administration for the approval of the proposed Coral Reef Commons.
The plaintiffs, according to the ruling, will suffer ‘immediate and irreparable injury arising from the destruction of the pine rocklands and the loss of threatened and endangered species that depend on such habitat for their survival’.
Moreover, ‘the public interest favors the entry of such an order’ was also stated in the ruling.
The proposed development was approved by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and would have paved the way for big stores, chain restaurants, and 900 apartment units.
The construction began a day after the green light; however, it ceased right after the order by the judge.
In the lawsuit, the environmentalists explained how the plan for conservation failed in several ways, beginning with surveys of the disappearing species which the plan should have kept safe.
The Fish & Wildlife Service allowed environmental consultants from Cummings to create their formula which will calculate the damage that may happen.
The method which wasn’t tested, as noted in the lawsuit, hadn’t been peer-reviewed and could set a precedent for usage in other projects. Around 3000 people submitted their comments on the plan, with most of them opposing it.
The Harm that Could Have Been Inflicted on the Endangered Species
The environmentalists also warned about the Walmart project being a threat to 20 endangered animals and plants, including the gopher tortoise, the eastern indigo snake, two butterflies, the Florida leafwing, the Florida brickell-bush, and the Bartram’s scrub-hairstreak.
This construction would’ve also wiped out some of the last ecological gems in South Florida and reduce quality of life for the residents, with increase in traffic and sprawl.
Despite once spanning across 185,000 acres, now, not much of these woodlands have remained due to rampant development. However, the little that’s there is still the habitat for a lot of species that are listed as endangered or threatened.
The environmental groups are chosen by the judge and her order allows these animals and plants, as well as the nearby residents, to get their opportunity in court for justice and a fighting chance for survival.