Dedicated to the protection of birds, other animals, and their habitats through education and activism
Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170; president@SEVolusiaAudubon.org
"Become a climate messenger on behalf of Florida’s birds and
wildlife. Get involved in your local and regional climate change
planning efforts and provide input with local governments, regional
planning agencies, and state agencies whenever opportunities present.
Thank you in advance for relaying the message that Florida’s natural
environment must have a future that goes hand-in-hand with the future
of our built environment."
The 2014 Audubon Assembly took place on Hutchinson Island this past October 17th and 18th. Of the 44 chapters in Florida, 40 were represented by one or more chapter members. Including Audubon Florida staffers and presenters, there were around 250 attendees at the Assembly.
There was a full two-day program of informative presentations
related to Amendment 1 (Florida Water and Land Conservation
Initiative), habitat restoration and maintenance and the effects of
climate change on avifauna that were open to all attendees.
There were several sessions that were directly linked to Audubon’s
national initiative regarding the effects of climate change on bird
populations. These sessions included “Communicating Climate
Change, Sea Level Rise and the Future of Birds” and “Setting Audubon’s
2015 Conservation Action Agenda”. These programs included
Audubon-produced documentaries and slide shows which provided visual
support to the message of climate change in Florida.
The concept of Climate Strongholds was often mentioned during the
programs. These are defined as “geographic areas that will
provide shelter against the onslaught of climate change.” In the
Audubon report on climate change and bird populations in North America
the entirety of Florida is considered a major Climate Stronghold.
The identification and designation of Important Bird Areas (IBAs) has
been an on-going initiative of Florida Audubon for the past 15 years,
and there are now over 100 separate IBAs totaling 10.2 million acres in
Florida. The enhancement and maintenance of these
IBAs/Strongholds that provide “essential habitats for migratory and
resident birds” areas will be further supported by passage of Amendment
1, which will direct a third of Florida real estate transaction tax
revenues to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund.
These funds [from the Land Acquisition Trust] would be expended to
acquire and improve conservation easements, wildlife management areas,
wetlands, forests, fish and wildlife habitats, beaches and shores,
recreational trails and parks, urban open space, rural landscapes,
working farms and ranches, historical and geological sites, lands
protecting water and drinking water resources and lands in the
Everglades Agricultural Areas and the Everglades Protection Area. The
fund is designed to manage and restore natural systems and to enhance
public access and recreational use of conservation lands. (Quoted from here.)
A final and important activity for the Assembly was to introduce the
draft of the Audubon Florida 2015 Conservation Action Agenda
(CAA). The CAA defines statewide and regional issues that Audubon
Florida has identified for active stewardship, legal advocacy and
study. There are seven regions encompassing 69 ecosystems
in Florida. Locally, SEVAS is within the Central Florida
Region. The agenda for this region includes:
During the Assembly, there were also additional programs for the students involved in the Audubon Conservation Leadership Initiative (CLI). The CLI mentors and trains college students to become “leaders in conservation at their schools or in their communities.”
Involving students in the environmental and legislative initiatives of Audubon Florida and the local chapters was an often-remarked upon challenge, and the subject of a workshop, “Engaging the Next Generation of Conservationists to Protect Land and Water Resources”. As one member noted, “Younger people have told me they feel intimidated when they attend a chapter meeting. They see the older members as highly-experienced authority figures which the younger person is reluctant to approach. “
Attendees had several ideas for involving students in Chapter
business and projects. These included setting up internships with
local HS Science classes and Scouting groups, and calling upon the
younger persons’ expertise in social media to enhance Chapter
In brief, there was a full range of educational and inspirational
activities, including numerous early morning field trips, on the agenda
for the two-day Assembly. The yearly Assemblies are a good place
to meet fellow members, learn about initiatives from the State and
National offices, and explore ecological and legislative issues in a
supportive and informative environment.