The Walmart corporation has earned a reputation for destroying natural habitats, and sacred Native American sites to build their stores. Even though there is plenty of other property for sale, Walmart seems to choose some of the most sensitive areas for construction.
According to a report in the Miami Herald this month, a developer is planning on tearing down a rare rainforest in Florida, so the area can be turned into a shopping center that would include a Walmart, an L.A Fitness and an apartment complex. This most recent project seems to be the work of a private developer, independent of Walmart, but regardless, this situation will add to the corporation’s notorious reputation.
In 2013, the property was acquired by Peter Cummings, founder of Ram Realty Services. Cummings purchased the land from the University of Miami for $22 million. The company insists that it has made a Habitat Conservation Plan, in which it promises to set aside roughly 55 acres inside the development area, and an additional 51 acres outside it, for conservation purposes.
Still, environmentalists say that this will just further fragment the ecosystem, and is not an honest effort at conservation.
Activists attempted to stop the development of the forest through the courts, but Walmart had the more powerful lawyers and maintained the rights to build on the property.
The development will destroy roughly 138 acres of Miami-Dade’s Pine Rockland Forest, which has already been significantly diminished by deforestation. The forest is home to at least 20 different endangered species of plants and animals.
The forest is now just 2% of its original size, and it will get much smaller after this development project is over. Before development in the area began, the forest once stretched for over 55 miles, but has now been reduced to just 3,000 acres. The forest is home to at least 20 different endangered species of plants and animals.
Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director of the Center for Biological Diversity, said that this is one of the last places in the region where nature was able to flourish.
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“This mega-development will wipe out some of South Florida’s last ecological gems and diminish quality of life for nearby residents by worsening traffic and sprawl. Losing the Florida bonneted bat, the rare Florida leafwing butterfly or the incredibly striking Miami tiger beetle is a tragedy that can’t be undone,” Lopez said, according to NewsWeek.
Most of the forest that actually does remain is protected by the Everglades National Park. The area has been a target for developers since the area was settled, due to its high elevation, which makes it relatively safe from flooding.
Sadly, it seems that there is no reversing this decision, as construction at the site has already begun. The concrete foundation for the shopping center is already built, and the development is underway.
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