Waterways and IBAs

Florida is home to sixty‐nine distinct ecosystems, each having evolved to host thousands of plant and animal species, including some that are rare and endemic. Native birds help maintain healthy ecosystems. As development, intensive agriculture, and human activity reduce the extent and functions of habitats, many of Florida’s native birds face greater threats.  

Audubon and partner organizations have designated a network of Important Bird Areas (IBAs) throughout the hemisphere. Audubon Florida is responsible for developing and pushing IBA conservation strategies within the state.  

Many IBAs overlap with protected waterways. Water defines Florida’s natural ecosystems. Seasonally abundant rainfall seeps into vast aquifers, wetlands, and floodplains. Freshwater flows through springs and rivers to nourish coastal marshes and seagrass beds.

Although humans have altered much of natural Florida, federal, state, county and local governments have protected considerable acreage as parks and other conservation lands. Of Florida’s 35 million acres, 28% has been designated as conservation land.  

Most of Florida’s waterways are managed in the public trust for the benefit of all citizens and to protect natural systems. However,

  • Reduced groundwater recharge and drainage of swamps and floodplains have depleted nature’s storage systems;
  • Diversion and discharge of wet season stormwater to coastal estuaries contributes contaminants and robs those same estuaries of freshwater during dry seasons and droughts;
  • Pollution from fertilizers and human and animal waste impair springs and rivers, leaving a legacy of human‐caused nutrients in soil, lakes, and groundwater;
  • Overuse of water for farm and landscape irrigation depletes aquifers and surface waters and reduces flow of springs and rivers; and
  • State and local budget cuts have slowed efforts to protect conservation lands and agencies are under pressure to surplus public lands for budget reasons while the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is reviewing proposals to increase development and agricultural uses on conservation lands.  

The Florida Legislature cut funds for conservation lands in spite of 75% voter approval of the Water and Land Conservation Amendment. Lawmakers have also failed to strengthen laws to protect springs and estuaries.

Important Bird Areas
Important Bird Areas

Important Bird Areas

Florida's Important Bird Area Program supports the persistence of our state's native avifauna and native habitats through sound land management, habitat preservation, and the work of volunteer citizen scientists.

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Sanctuaries
Conservation

Sanctuaries

Audubon Florida owns over 70 properties in 27 Florida counties, protecting a diversity of habitats with varying degrees of accessibility.

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News & Updates

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Waterways And IBAs

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Birders provide important information for resource management and conservation planning

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Everglades

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Coastal Water Crisis Update - July 15, 2016

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Coastal Water Crisis Update - July 8, 2016
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Coastal Water Crisis Update - July 8, 2016

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Everglades

Coastal Water Crisis Update - June 30, 2016

Audubon's new weekly newsletter series to address the emergency in our coastal waters.

How you can help, right now