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

2016 Post-Session Report to Our Supporters
News

2016 Post-Session Report to Our Supporters

The 2016 Florida Legislative Session ended last week. Legislators have now returned home to face the voters.

New Proposal to Fund Important Conservation Projects in Florida
Press Center

New Proposal to Fund Important Conservation Projects in Florida

— Statement from Eric Draper, Audubon Florida Executive Director.
Audubon’s Eric Draper Issues Statement on the Passage of SB 552
News

Audubon’s Eric Draper Issues Statement on the Passage of SB 552

— Statement from Eric Draper, Audubon Florida Executive Director.
Audubon Jay Watch Partners to Restore Rare Scrub Habitat
News

Audubon Jay Watch Partners to Restore Rare Scrub Habitat

"Timberrrr" calls were heard near and far on the morning of January 9 in the Tiger Branch area of Highlands Hammock State Park.

Florida Audubon Society Completes Acquisition of Newest Sanctuary in the Chassahowitzka Marsh
News

Florida Audubon Society Completes Acquisition of Newest Sanctuary in the Chassahowitzka Marsh

The U.S. Family Foundation has completed a transaction deeding 80 acres of pristine coastal marsh and hammock habitat in Citrus County to the Florida Audubon Society.

West Pasco Audubon Advocates for Rocky Creek
News

West Pasco Audubon Advocates for Rocky Creek

With about 25 West Pasco Audubon Society members in attendance, the Pasco Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to pay $3.1 million to buy the Rocky Creek property, which is located just south of the Florida Audubon Society's Gibbons Sanctuary.

Audubon Establishes "Reid Hughes Marsh Sanctuary" in Nassau County
News

Audubon Establishes "Reid Hughes Marsh Sanctuary" in Nassau County

The Florida Audubon Society has added nearly 200 acres of pristine Nassau County marshland to its system of wildlife sanctuaries thanks to a generous donation from Reid B. Hughes of New Smyrna Beach. Hughes serves as a member of Audubon's Board of Directors and is a past member of the Governing Board of the St. Johns River Water Management District.

Audubon Florida Presents Sustainable Rancher of the Year Award for 2015 to Lykes Ranch
News

Audubon Florida Presents Sustainable Rancher of the Year Award for 2015 to Lykes Ranch

Audubon Florida presented its Sustainable Rancher of the Year award to Lykes Ranch at Florida Cattlemen’s Association annual banquet held at Champions Gate near Orlando on the evening of June 18.

SWFWMD Staff Removes Hálpata Tastanaki Preserve Tracts From Surplus List
News

SWFWMD Staff Removes Hálpata Tastanaki Preserve Tracts From Surplus List

Audubon Florida staff will be meeting with District staff and contacting board members in advance of the board’s final decision.

How you can help, right now