Florida lost more than 260,000 acres of freshwater, emergent
wetlands during 1985-1996, and the rate of loss of this wetland
type more than doubled as compared to the rate during the
1970's-1980's period. Wetlands, particularly freshwater emergent
wetlands, are essential for waterfowl and other wildlife, yet
losses continue. Since Florida became a state, total wetland area
has decreased by approximately 44%.
Wetland habitat in wintering areas, such
as Florida, is important in the overall annual cycle of migratory
waterfowl. Habitat conditions during this non-breeding period
affect waterfowl survival and reproduction in subsequent years.
Ducks and geese must maintain or improve their body condition
during winter to avoid mortality during the spring migration and to
meet the physiological demands of the nesting season (i.e., egg
laying, incubation). The FWC's waterfowl staff devotes considerable
resources to monitoring and managing these migrant birds and
providing quality habitat for them in Florida.
Managing wetland habitat is critical to providing the greatest
quantity and highest quality of habitat possible to support
Florida's waterfowl and other wetland-dependent wildlife. The
importance of conserving quality habitat for wildlife is essential.
Without a large habitat base that includes breeding, migration, and
wintering areas, waterfowl populations will decline despite any
attempt to restrict sport harvest. Wetland habitat management has
importance beyond its value to waterfowl by benefiting many other
Florida plant and wildlife species.
provides technical assistance on wetland conservation and
management issues around the state. We work with many agencies,
organizations, and private landowners to cooperatively manage
wetlands. Unfortunately, not all technical assistance produces a
tangible increase in waterfowl habitat, but our input does cause
the welfare of wetlands and waterfowl to be considered when
resource management decisions are made. The FWC manages several
wetland areas with a focus on providing waterfowl habitat. See
below for more information on these areas.
Two partnership programs targeting waterfowl habitat
conservation enhance the FWC's ability to conserve and manage
wetland habitat for both resident and migratory waterfowl, as well
as a host of other wetland wildlife. Since 1985, Ducks Unlimited
has provided matching money to acquire and enhance more than 22,000
acres of wetland habitat in Florida. FWC has been a partner in
projects on more than 19,000 of those acres.
Florida is a part of the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture (ACJV) of
the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. This joint venture,
among others, serves to implement wetland habitat management
objectives and establish and maintain waterfowl population goals
identified in the Plan. Joint ventures create partnerships to plan,
fund, and implement wetland habitat projects within their
respective geographic areas. ACJV partnerships will provide
substantial benefits to Florida's fish and wildlife resources.
Participating states include ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, NY, PA, NJ,
DE, MD, WV, VA, NC, SC, GA, and FL.