Thomas T. Ankersen
Legal Skills Professor
Director, Conservation Clinic
Professor Ankersen directs the University of Florida Conservation Clinic, the experiential learning arm of the College’s Environmental and Land Use Law Program. Ankersen also directs the College’s Costa Rica Program. He practices domestic, international and comparative environmental law with an emphasis on Florida, Latin America and the Caribbean. Internationally he has worked and/or taught in 30 countries, though his focus remains in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the late 1990’s he helped to found the Mesoamerican Environmental Law Network, a consortium of non-governmental advocacy organizations. Internationally, his work has led to both domestic law reforms and international agreements in Africa and Central America as well as in the United Nations treaty system (World Heritage Convention Operational Guidelines). Ankersen has used his clinical experience to aid in the formation of 4 new environmental law clinics at law schools in Costa Rica and the Brazilian Amazon. In Florida, Ankersen works with state and local governments as well and non-profits to pursue innovative solutions to environmental and land use issues through law and policy. He serves as Florida Sea Grant’s statewide legal specialist. Ankersen is fluent in Spanish.
Professor Ankersen’s international scholarship has centered on comparative civil and common law, in particular comparative property law. In 2005 he received a MacArthur Foundation research and writing grant to study land tenure and administration in Latin America, which led to pioneering English language research into the “social function doctrine,” a gloss on property ownership not found in the common law. He has also published on the growing recognition of an international law of property, distinct from domestic law, and its relation to human rights and sustainable development law. His articles have been re-published in Spanish and Portuguese. Domestically, Ankersen researches and publishes in the area of environmental restoration, climate adaptation, and marine and coastal law and policy. He serves on the board of the National Sea Grant Law and Policy Journal.
J.D., University of Florida
M.A., University of South Florida
B.A., University of South Florida
Teaching and Scholarship
Domestic/International Environmental Law & Policy, Water Law, Protection of Biological Diversity
- University of Florida: Joined College of Law in 1991 as Legal Skills Professor and Attorney at the Center for Governmental Responsibility. Named Director, Conservation Clinic (1998) & Director, Costa Rica Joint Program in Environmental and Land Use Law (2000). Affiliate Faculty, Center for Latin American Studies since 1993.
- Professional Experience: Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund Inc., Staff Attorney, Denver and Tallahassee (1990-91). Peeples Earl & Blank, Senior Litigation Associate, Miami (1986-90). Stottler Staggs & Associates, Environmental Planner, Cape Canaveral (1980-83).
- Professional Affiliations: President, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center Board of Directors; Tropical Ecosystems Directorate, U.S. Department of State Man and the Biosphere Program; Board of Directors, Forest Management Trust; World Conservation Union Environmental Law Commission.
- Environmental Law and/or Land Use Law (4th semester or greater); graduate students need instructor approval and referral from affiliate faculty. This course will provide upper level environmental law students and graduate students in related fields with exposure to transactional environmental and land use professional practice, applied research and public policy analysis under the supervision of the instructor/clinic director.
- This course will focus on two major common law systems of surface water allocation followed in the United States and of modern statutory systems (with special focus on Florida's statutory scheme). Other topics may include groundwater regulation, the public trust doctrine, the bottled water industry, and current issues in Florida.
- Recreational Rights to the Dry Sand Beach in Florida: Property, Custom and Controversy, 25 Ocean & Coastal L.J. 1 (2020) (with Alyson Flournoy & Sasha Alvarenga) [SSRN]
- Adaptation Action Areas in Florida: The State of Play, 40 Envtl. & Land Use Law Section Rep. (Florida Bar), No. 3 at 1 (January 2020) (with Brandon Pownall & Alexa Menashe)
- Conservation Easements and Coastal Armoring: Protecting Sea Turtle Nesting Habitat Through Property Ownership, 182 J. Ocean & Coastal Mgmt. 10944 (December 2019) (with Melissa Hill, Martha Monroe, Raymond Cathy & Tom Kay)
- Coastal Armoring and Sea Turtles: Beachfront Homeowners’ Opinions and Intent, J. Coastal Mgmt. 6 (2019) (with Melissa Hill, Martha Monroe, Raymond Carthy & Tom Kay)
- Boating, Waterways, and the Rights of Navigation in Florida (5th edition, Florida Sea Grant) (with Byron Flagg, Kaci Poor & Jennifer Saviano) [SSRN]
- Defining “Harmful to the Water Resources” in the 2016 Outstanding Florida Springs Legislation, 39 Envtl. & Land Use Law Section Rep. (Florida Bar), No.3 at 1 (January 2019) (with Kathryn Slattery & Robert Palmer, Ph.D.)
- Seizing the ‘Organic’ Moment: Cuba’s Agricultural Crossroads and Certified Organic Export Potential, 21 Drake J. Agric. L. 297 (2016) (with Wesley J. Hevia, Micahel T. Olexa & William A. Messina Jr.) [SSRN]
- Got Guts? The Iconic Streams of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Law’s Ephemeral Edge, 32 J. Envtl. L. & Litig. 101 (2016) (with Jesse Reiblich) [SSRN]
- Turtles Without Borders: The International and Domestic Law Basis for the Shared Conservation, Management, and Use of Sea Turtles in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama (with Gabriela Stocks, Franklin Paniagua, and Sekita Grant), 18 J. Int’l Wildlife L. & Pol’y 1 (2015)
- Feeling the Squeeze: The Troubled Future of Lateral Beach Access in Florida, 35 Envtl. & Land Use Law Section Rep. (Florida Bar), No. 3 at 1 (March 2014)
- The Tiff Over TIF: Extending Tax Increment Financing to Municipal Maritime Infrastructure, (with Samantha Culp and Marissa Faerber, 34 Envtl. & Land Use Law Section Rep. (Florida Bar), No. 3 at 1 (2013)
- A Multidisciplinary Review of Current Sea Level Rise Research in Florida (with Anna Cathey Linhoss, Lisa Gardner Chambers and Kevin Wozniak), Technical Paper 193, University of Florida Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences (2013)
- Large Woody Material: Science, Policy and Best Management Practices in Florida Streams (with Linhoss, Cameron A., Hall H., and Blair S.), 75 The Florida Scientist 157 (2012) [SSRN]
- Comprehensive Sea Grass Restoration In Southwest Florida: Science, Law And Eco-Regional Planning (with A.B. Lingle Hotaling), 4 Sea Grant L. & Pol’y J. 61 (2011) [SSRN]
- Shared Knowledge; Shared Jurisprudence: Learning to Speak Environmental Law Creole, 16 Tulane J. Envtl. L. 807 (2003).
- “Inside the Polygon: Emerging Community Tenure Systems and Forest Resource Extraction,” in WORKING FORESTS IN THE TROPICS: CONSERVATION THROUGH SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT, (Columbia Presses 2004) (with Grenville Barnes). [SSRN]
- The Environmental Impacts of International Finance Corporation Lending and Proposals for Reform: A Case Study of Conservation and Oil Development in The Guatemalan Petn, 29 J. Envtl. L. 103 (1999) (with Ian Bowles et al.) [SSRN]