In coastal towns and cities, vast areas now inhabited by super markets, houses, roads, parking lots, hotels and schools were once occupied by mangrove forests. Growing out of the ocean and onto the land, mangrove trees serve many important roles. Mangrove forests play host to nurseries for baby fish and shrimp. They ward off climate change by absorbing and storing excess atmospheric carbon dioxide. Their numerous sturdy trunks and roots protect coastal cities and towns from flooding during storms. It is estimated that a single hectare of mangrove can be worth $20,000 a year (or $8,100 per acre) in contributions to fisheries and coastal protection. They will only become more valuable as climate changes and sea levels rise. Unfortunately, mangroves are still being cut down in many parts of the world to make way for coastal properties and aquaculture projects.
The Miami Mangrove Reclamation Project is a volunteer-driven eco-art installation that restores Miami’s mangroves while bringing greater attention to this important ecosystem. Volunteers venture into the mangroves where there are seedlings aplenty. They collect and plant the reclaimed seedlings in public spaces to educate the public and beautify schools and storefronts. These spaces act as nurseries where the seedlings can germinate and grow for a year. When the seedlings are ready, they are replanted in the mangrove to allow the next generation of mangroves to flourish. So far, thirty-five local schools have adopted the installations and over 150 retail stores have exhibited mangrove seedlings in their storefronts. Over 3,000 mangrove seedlings have been planted in Miami restoring roughly eight acres of coastal habitat. Getting involved in coastal restoration has never looked better!