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. Mangroves have also been shown to be one of the few coastal plants with the ability to build up soils and raise elevation, something of particular significance in the face of sea level rise.
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. The project continues to evolve, with classrooms all over Miami-Dade County collecting, growing and planting mangroves as part of SEAS' Coastline to the Classroom program.
Since October 2011, over 1,000 volunteers from local schools and organizations have planted more than 3,000 red mangrove seedlings in county preserves and state parks in an effort to restore mangrove ecosystems throughout Miami-Dade.
The Adopt a Mangrove Program is a campaign to raise awareness about wetland restoration and conservation initiatives to restore degraded areas while reducing impacts of climate change. Proceeds will be used to supply classrooms in local schools with flats of mangroves for students to raise, observe, and learn about this important, endangered element of our local ecosystem. These red mangrove seedlings will be cared for and protected for a period of time. The mangroves will then be planted to help restore the areas to native mangrove forests. If you have questions about the Adopt a Mangrove Program email firstname.lastname@example.org.