Mangroves are vitally important to South Florida. Their roots serve as a source of food, shelter, and as a nursery ground for countless species of fish, crustaceans, mollusks, birds, and reptiles, including the threatened American crocodile. The roots also protect coral reefs by slowing down and catching much of the pollutants and trash that might otherwise make it out to sea. Mangroves offer valuable protection against the wind, waves, and tides which can wreak havoc in low-lying South Florida, particularly during a hurricane.
The Mangrove Restoration project began in September 2009 when the cigar-shaped propagules from the Red mangroves, Rhizophora mangle, were collected as part of a Biscayne Bay beach clean-up. Led by Jennifer Grimm, the SEAS Environmental Programs Manager, the propagules were initially placed in plastic cups with fresh water and gravel until they were established enough to be replanted. Housed at the Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High greenhouse, Martin Roch, a biology/marine science high school teacher, and Jennifer Grimm have supervised as students have cared for the seedlings.
In October 2011 a group of 75 people, including faculty and students from FIU, Miami-Dade College, and Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High, planted 1,500 red mangrove seedlings throughout a half-acre of land at Oleta River State Park.
The Restoration project continues with many opportunities for students and staff to get involved:
Over the course of the next year, Mangrove Work Days will be held once a month to monitor the growth of the Mangrove seedlings housed in the greenhouse at Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High. The Mangrove Work Days will culminate next fall with the annual Mangrove Planting at Oleta State Park. Students that are interested in participating should contact Jennifer Grimm.
Staff members can take part in our Adopt a Mangrove Program. The Program is a campaign to raise awareness about wetland restoration and conservation initiatives to restore degraded areas while reducing impacts of climate change. These red mangrove propagules will be cared for and protected by faculty and staff at Florida International University and strategic partners for a period of time. The mangroves will then be planted to help restore the areas to native mangrove forests.