Mercabo Cove is one of GICIA’s (Gasparilla Island Conservation & Improvement Association) largest projects. The site was once dominated by large buildings, concrete, and expansive seawalls, but since 2016, GICIA has planted over 3,000 native plants and installed rip rap and reef balls to improve the water and the area’s overall aesthetics. As one of the final steps in the project, GICIA wanted to install seagrass to further aid in water quality improvement, sediment stabilization, and nutrient sequestration.
“Seagrass is one of the most productive ecosystems in the world,” said Sea & Shoreline Lead Biologist Ryan Brushwood. “It provides a variety of solutions, such as improving water quality, and providing food and shelter for marine life. We are thrilled to be working with the GICIA to transform this industrial site into a conservation habitat.”
“The final step of this restoration project has been the installation of seagrass, which if successful, will increase our efforts to improve habitat and water quality within the Cove,” said Misty Nichols, GICIA Executive Director.
The financing of the necessary environmental restoration is problematic. The job is o big, government can’t do it alone. There is a need to jigger the economic system so restoration becomes a profitable enterprise — something absolutely necessary to doing business. An example of this is the way government-imposed mileage standards inspired the market to innovate fuel-saving technologies.
Bloomberg Law has a short, interesting article about activating the private sector.
Most of the attention on the actions to achieve this net-zero transformation has focused on expanding investment in technologies that reduce emissions from fossil fuels, such as wind, solar, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles.
What’s less widely understood and discussed in the U.S. and around the world is that achieving this ambitious goal will also require scaling up private sector investments in nature-based infrastructure solutions, such as wetland and forest restoration, which help pull carbon emissions out of the atmosphere and embed it in our natural ecosystems.
Ecological restoration is a huge climate and business opportunity in part because there is so much past damage, which thankfully can be fixed using current technology and methods. We have much work to do, as over half of our original wetlands in the lower 48 states have been drained.
Today, a network of rivers and streams 10 times the total length of the U.S. interstate highway system is significantly degraded by pollution, and the Department of Agriculture has predicted a possible net loss of 37 million acres of forest by 2060.
America’s ecological restoration industry is already taking on some of this work with available capital. For example, about $4 billion in wetland and stream restoration is carried out each year by private businesses that specialize in repairing damaged aquatic ecosystems. The ecological restoration must meet stringent government standards, or it can’t be valued under well-established net-zero federal wetland policies.
Unfortunately, a dramatic expansion of investment in climate resilience, water quality, and ecosystems is held back by government rules. A patchwork of outdated state and federal laws, approval processes, and government procurement strategies too often stifle private sector investment in ecological restoration.
The article doesn’t go much into how this mobilization of the private sector will take place, but it’s still worthwhile. The source links in the piece are worth the price of admission.
The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) runs a volunteer effort to restore mangroves on three small islands in Pine Island Sound between the islands and the Florida mainland. The program is managed by the Sanibel Sea School.
Kealy McNeal, the conservation initiative coordinator at the Sanibel Sea School, said the program was a way to get the community involved.
“Really, the biggest part of this is the education component of the initiative,” McNeal said. “Not only are we having the volunteers grow mangroves but we’re also having them understand why they are growing them: how animals rely on them, how they reduce erosion, manage water quality and create a buffer against storm damage.”
The starter kits volunteers take home contain a one-gallon pot filled with soil and a red mangrove propagule, which is about 10 inches long and shaped like a string bean. Red mangroves, as opposed to the white or black species, are a bit easier to grow, McNeal said.
“Really, just make sure they are watered and receive some love every once in a while,” she said. “We’ve received really great feedback from volunteers on survival rates.”
Once the volunteers’ plants are ready this fall, they can join McNeal and others out to Hemp, Benedict and Bird keys in Pine Island Sound to plant the young mangroves.
“The reason why we picked those restoration sites is because of the damage they received from Hurricane Charley in 2004 — and they were almost completely decimated,” McNeal said. “They’ve been really slow to come back.”
The argument between the city of Alexandria, Virginia, and environmentalists has intensified. It’s down to competing consultants, with an important-but-not-telegenic disagreement on how to best measure phosphorous content of the Taylor Run streambed.
Opponents say the city is overstating the level of pollution in the creek and the proposed overhaul of the stream bed would damage the health of the watershed by removing foliage, though the city says many of the trees being removed are dead and that more will be replanted.
This is a fascinating case where both sides appear to be admirable in their motivation, and disagree only on method. Or maybe I’m missing something. I tried to contact some of the players but they’re not surprisingly ignoring me. But I’m going to keep watching because this story fascinates me.
This is something I never thought of but that came up in a YouTube I saw a while back. In a video about a young woman sailing solo around the world, she talked a little about how a lot of islands are installing buoys even in mostly untraveled bays so when boats stop by they don’t drop anchor and screw up the eel grass on the ocean floor. I’ve been keeping an eye out for news and case studies about that, and this morning I got a press release:
WINTER GARDEN, Fla., Feb. 24, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Today Sea & Shoreline announced the completion of a coral reef protection effort at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, Fla. Eighteen individual mooring buoys were installed, allowing boats and vessels to tie up to the buoys versus using anchoring methods that damage the reefs. The project is a collaboration between Sea & Shoreline, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and Friends of John Pennekamp, a volunteer non-profit organization, all in an effort to support conservation and environmental enhancement.
So that’s interesting and I had some time to kill so I did a little Google work and found a couple of interesting things. Here’s a project from the University of Wollongong in Australia — a school I have no knowledge of by now very badly want a t-shirt from. They’ve initiated a study on the effect of anchors and anchor chains on the ocean floor on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef.
Marine biologist Professor Andy Davis said preliminary mapping and 3D imagery of the sea floor three nautical miles from Port Kembla had revealed the anchor chains of more than 250 meters in length, with individual links up to 200 kilograms, are dragging across seafloor habitat.
“Preliminary mapping has confirmed anchoring is occurring on reef near Port Kembla. This may well have damaging environmental impacts on important habitat-forming marine species with implications for fish populations. We will now seek to identify areas of high conservation value, then identify how these areas may best be conserved.”
Here’s a thing with terrifying footage of the damage caused to reefs by cruise ship anchors.
Here’s an organization, Sailors for the Sea, that is active in finding anchoring solutions. Fun Fact: the co-founder is David Rockefeller Jr. Along with anchors, they also keep tabs on prop scarring.
Great background on the history of environmental restoration from Aeon.
The practice was first championed as a cutting-edge conservation strategy by professional groups such as the Society for Ecological Restoration, established in 1988. Undeniably, there was controversy in the decade or so after. To what, exactly, should systems be restored or, more accurately, to when should they be restored: perhaps the target might be the conditions prior to European settlement in the United States, or, at an extreme, might we rewild to the conditions prevailing in the late Pleistocene? Some philosophers fretted over the ontological status of these newly managed systems – are they ‘faked nature’? Some Chicago writers complained that restorationists were ‘carving up the woods’. Some policy scholars worried that seeing nature as repairable could justify harsher use of the environment: why be concerned about resource extraction if all the parts sundered in the process could be adroitly returned to their place? Nonetheless, by the 1990s, restoration practices had gained widespread support among academic ecologists and landscape managers.
The Four Lakes Task Force has reached an agreement with Boyce Hydro to buy the remnants of two collapsed dams for $1.5 million. I don’t really understand why they had to pay to take over the liability of replacing or … Continue reading →
This is one of those almost-gets-by-with-no-one-noticing things that should be big news. Oregon and California will sign a pact with two tribal nations and PacificCorp to remove 4 dams on the Klamath River. Governor Kate Brown joined California Governor Gavin … Continue reading →
The Foundation for Climate Restoration (F4CR), a registered 501(c)(3) private foundation incorporated in November 2017, raises awareness of and commitment to restoring the climate. It was originally incorporated under the name 300×2050 Climate Restoration Foundation, Inc., and the name was changed in early 2018. It received its IRS determination letter in October, 2019.
In 2020, F4CR has focused on developing an ecosystem for climate restoration to become a new global priority. F4CR convened its Second Annual Global Climate Restoration Forum as a virtual event with 850 registrants. The event included over 40 speakers from around the world and energized the growing climate restoration community. F4CR also began developing its grassroots base and launched pilot local chapters focused on raising awareness and driving participation in climate restoration, as well as a youth training program. Chairman Emeritus Peter Fiekowsky handed the seat of Board Chair to his wife and co-founder, Sharon Fiekowsky.