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,
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.
The Governor and Cabinet voted yesterday to purchase an 8,000-acre conservation easement from Lyme Timber Company in Dixie County, near Cross City. This incredibly beautiful property hugs the Gulf Coast and has important tributaries to creeks leading to the Gulf and their headwaters inside its boundaries
In Pasco County, an easement covering 600 acres was purchased over the Phillips-Mathis Ranch just west of I-75 and south of SR 52. This ranch is directly in the path of immediate development, and the purchase of this easement will protect the Cypress Creek Preserve and Cypress Creek Wellfield.