Amelia Island Plantation, a 495-acre private community in Florida located on the western most barrier island on the Eastern Coast, has a long way since beginning its journey in Audubon International’s Sustainable Communities Program in 2018. This residential neighborhood encompasses maritime forests, expansive salt marshes, and extensive dune systems that stretch along 3.5 miles of pristine un-crowded beachfront along the Atlantic Ocean.
Recognizing these unique features, Amelia Island residents and staff teamed up with Audubon International to protect the areas where they live, work, and play – and over the past two years have become the second community in the state of Florida to be certified in Audubon International’s Sustainable Communities Program.
A framework for future growth
Sustainable Communities Certification serves as a framework to merge economic and social considerations with the protecting and enhancing a community’s environmental characteristics. Through the certification process the community uses guidelines developed by Audubon International to develop a Long-Term Sustainability Plan which outlines how their goals in 15 different focal areas will be met; some of which include resource use, public health, governance, and environmental issues.
Positive environmental impacts
Amelia Island is pursuing numerous environmental initiatives included in their Long-Term Sustainability Plan, including a multi-year vine mitigation program to remove invasive vines from the tree canopy along state highway A1A, which runs through the community.
However, their efforts do not stop there – other projects include a Legacy Tree Program that will add trees for future forest growth as well as replace trees that have died or fallen due to a storm or other event. The Legacy Tree Program seeks to replant preferred species that will enhance and improve the quality of the existing maritime forest types, assuring their vitality for future generations to also enjoy.
Additionally, the community is working with the South Amelia Island Shore Stabilization Association’s beach replenishment project to protect and preserve the sand that has been lost naturally or due to human impact over the years.
“From its inception 50 years ago, Amelia Island Plantation has been a community designed for, and dedicated to sustainability and being in harmony with nature,” said Bob Schmonsees, President of The Amelia Island Plantation Foundation. “Our community wide sustainability initiative and partnership with Audubon International is our next step in preserving and strengthening that 50-year legacy.”
Amelia Island Plantation focuses on a healthy environment to live in, but also on ways to improve the lives of their residents. As part of their outreach and education efforts, they offer an educational mobile app to spread awareness about environmental stewardship projects like their demonstration garden and wildlife viewing platforms. A network of educational signs is also in place around the community’s environmental areas.
As the second private community in Florida to receive the Audubon International Sustainable Community Certification, Amelia Island has demonstrated a strong commitment to fulfilling the ideals of sustainability—economic vitality, environmental protection, and social responsibility. This community’s multi-stage, staff-led effort will help to preserve their unique setting and enhance quality of life for all residents over the long run.
Audubon International’s Sustainable Communities Program serves as a catalyst for citizen-driven planning and community actions, and facilitates partnerships with governmental agencies, businesses, academic institutions, and other organizations to reach the goals envisioned in each community. If you are interested in learning more about Audubon International’s Sustainable Communities Certification, please visit: auduboninternational.org/sustainable-communities-program.
Audubon International, an environmentally focused non-profit organization offers members numerous certifications and conservation initiatives to protect the areas where we live, work, and play. Their programs are designed to increase environmental awareness, encourage sustainable environmental efforts, and educate both their members and their communities.