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.

Read more

Sanctuaries
Conservation

Sanctuaries

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

Read more

News & Updates

Coastal Water Crisis Update: Audubon's Eric Draper Discusses Solutions at Florida Capitol
Everglades

Coastal Water Crisis Update: Audubon's Eric Draper Discusses Solutions at Florida Capitol

Army Corps responds to the public’s call for water storage planning in the Everglades Agricultural Area

Coastal Water Crisis Update - July 15, 2016
News

Coastal Water Crisis Update - July 15, 2016

Audubon and Everglades Foundation present option to immediately hold more water south of Lake Okeechobee.

Coastal Water Crisis Update - July 8, 2016
Everglades

Coastal Water Crisis Update - July 8, 2016

More Questions than Answers as Algae Blooms Continue

Coastal Water Crisis Update - June 30, 2016
Everglades

Coastal Water Crisis Update - June 30, 2016

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

Lightsey Cattle Company Presented with Audubon Florida's 2016 Sustainable Rancher Award
News

Lightsey Cattle Company Presented with Audubon Florida's 2016 Sustainable Rancher Award

Well managed cattle ranches produce a wealth of important wildlife habitat.

Water Quality and Storage Solutions to Ease Florida’s Coastal Water Crisis
Everglades

Water Quality and Storage Solutions to Ease Florida’s Coastal Water Crisis

Florida’s coastal waters are experiencing an unprecedented ecological collapse.

Governor Scott and Florida Cabinet Protect Over 5,000 Acres in Central Florida
News

Governor Scott and Florida Cabinet Protect Over 5,000 Acres in Central Florida

Eric Draper, Audubon Florida Executive Director, spoke to the Governor and Cabinet urging approval of the easement proposals.

Free PDF: Audubon Florida Naturalist Magazine Spring 2016 - "It's a Baby Issue"
News

Free PDF: Audubon Florida Naturalist Magazine Spring 2016 - "It's a Baby Issue"

Download your free copy of Audubon Florida's award-winning conservation magazine.

Thank You: Your Emails to the Brevard County Commission are Helping Immeasurably
News

Thank You: Your Emails to the Brevard County Commission are Helping Immeasurably

At the workshop on March 31, three Brevard County Commissioners continued to express strong concerns and questions regarding the proposed landfill in St. Johns River floodplain wetlands.

Audubon Florida's Chris Farrell Takes the #MyWaterPledge

Join Audubon's Chris Farrell in pledging to protect Florida's water resources. Visit http://www.sjrwmd.com/waterpledge.html to take the #MyWaterPledge today.

How you can help, right now