World Wet lands Week in Louisiana

Simbrey Major at the Urban Forestry Department’s GIS laboratory.

When you think about Louisiana coastal wetlands what comes to mind?

You may correlate these intrinsic images with rural and urban forestry swamp life, bayou parishes swamp rides, and even a ferry ride across the great Mississippi River. Well, experts are currently advocating to increase awareness about the beauty Louisiana coastal wetlands narrative with an “World Wetlands Week” observance. Since 1971 this worldwide day of observes the impact and restoration of coastal wetlands around the world. Get this, here are some astonishing facts, did you know that 40% of the United States’ coastal wetlands are in Louisiana?

As a point of reference, a football field is now being swallowed every 100 minutes in the state and surrounding areas. That’s why the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) is essential to everyday American life. Nearly 80 percent of traded goods that Americans rely on is moved through our Nation’s ports, harbors, and inland waterways. Projects for flood damage reduction help protect both our rural and urban communities, thus benefiting millions of Americans. Ecosystem restoration projects restore and maintain our vital natural resources as we come to know and love. This work, carried out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), is made possible through the enactment of WRDA.

Mrs. Beattra Wilson 2002 Alumna of SU

Urban Forestry, USDA Forest Service Assistant Director of Cooperative Forestry and Urban and Community Forestry has a poignant view.

“To be honest any of the environmental conservation efforts are critical at this point.

As we’ve been faced with the warnings the signs, the erratic activity related to climate change. Each component requires care. Regarding wetlands there are critical habitats. when you think about our world and our living environment apart of our ecosystem all of these components require care, preservation, conservation, and innovative solutions for the long term. Preservation and sustainability for this efforts are very important to call attention for world wetlands whether it’s a day month any effort to amplify that critical need is important.”

Much like Mrs. Wilson, Dr. Zhu Hua Ning reports similar observations and the Urban Forestry unit is kind of like a revolving door. “Being situated in the Gulf Coast region, Louisiana is gifted by the Mother Nature with the coastal wetlands. Due to sea level rise, the Louisiana costal wetland is disappearing in an alarming rate. As such, wetland dependent species both plants and sea lives got advisedly effects due to loss of habitats. As citizens of Louisiana, especially young students who are the future managers of the natural resources, we need to collectively devises strategies and practices that protect our wetlands from further erosion.”

Why advocate for‪ #WorldWetlandsDay, One good reason is that it’s supported by several initiatives such as the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act, which provided funds for planning and executing projects that protect & restore wetlands in coastal La.‪ or Louisiana coastal protection and restoration authority‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

and USACE (U.S. Army Corps. Of Engineers) are on track to restore over 100K acres of coastal lands across the region.

Dr. Zhu Hua Ning, believes it is important to observe World Wetlands Week because,

“Observing wetland week increases awareness on wetland functions and the need for best management practices in sustaining the ecosystems services that the wetlands provide.

During the wetland week, we would like to share that Southern University’s Urban Forestry, Environment, and Natural Resources Department is in the for-front of studying wetlands in Louisiana. Collaborating with Louisiana State University, Drs. Zhu Hua Ning, Kamran Abdollahi, and Chris Chappell have been carrying out a NASA-funded, nationally competitive project to quantify wetland carbon content, vegetation health, biomass, and land cover change in Barataria Bay and Wax Lake Delta.”

At the end of 2020, Congress passed bipartisan legislation called the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA2020) that included some big wins for Louisiana's coast.

Each year, government agencies, non-governmental organizations and groups of citizens worldwide undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general. And this method is in fact successfully encouraging the support of all inland restoration projects to chip in. Hence, if you are new to the Louisiana coastal wetlands here is what you should consider.

Wetlands are found near the sea or inland and can be seasonal – they are water logged only during parts of the year, or perennial. They play a crucial role in the ecosystem by:

• Preventing flooding by absorbing water.

• Ensuring that the soil provides a unique breeding ground for vegetation that feeds fish.

• Giving shelter to animals.

• Purifying water by removing sediment.

Where other program initiatives aren’t quite fit for the challenge, the World Wetlands WDRA task force was intended to be a venue to address conservation and restoration activities throughout coastal Louisiana, but it never appointed members.

Although the task force was never active, this provision represents an important and timely step toward renewed federal interest and engagement in the Louisiana Coastal Area plan – as it will take all levels of government working together to confront the challenges ahead.

By the way, you may be familiar with the lacoast.gov shell-a-bration virtual event, which is currently in its third year and has received a lot of attention. Shell-A-Bration is a community event dedicated towards raising awareness and engagement for the organization’s Oyster Shell Recycling Program. The event focuses on Music performance from Sweet Crude,

Restaurant shuck off competition, and Cooking demonstration from local NOLA and surrounding restaurant(s). The horizon of Louisiana costal wetland is shining bright and has a promising future. On Southern University’s Campus Dr. Ning is producing tier one excellence through the NASA-Funded program initiatives :“The project research results were reported by two SU graduate students in their respective doctoral dissertation by Hande Suslu and master’s thesis by Simbrey Majors that earned them a Ph.D. and a Master’s degree in Dec 2020. Numerous undergraduate studnets also participated in the project research training.”

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