NEW ORLEANS – "The challenges are huge, but we have an enormous opportunity to save much of the Gulf Coast for both birds and people. We can’t afford to blow this," said David Yarnold, president and CEO of National Audubon Society (@david_yarnold) after the release of an extensive report, Audubon’s Vision: Restoring the Gulf of Mexico for Birds and People.
The report highlights projects and programs critical to help the region and its wildlife recover from devastating hurricanes, oil spills and other environmental and man-made disasters. At the center of the largest ecosystem restoration effort ever attempted, Audubon recommends an investment of more than $1.7 billion in restoration and conservation efforts.
The BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, which resulted in a global settlement of $20.8 billion in claims and cleanup efforts, has left a devastating mark on the Gulf Coast. Audubon recommends 16 state-based, 10 region-wide and four open ocean projects, which together total more than 136,000 acres of restored or protected habitat for bird and human communities from south Texas to the Florida Keys.
“Never before has this amount of funding been dedicated to ecosystem restoration, therefore, we have an unprecedented opportunity to help the Gulf recover,” said Director of Gulf Coast Restoration at National Audubon Society, Kara Lankford. “Wildlife and people living along the coast are dependent on millions of acres of habitat that is at extreme risk unless we act boldly.”
“The enormous challenges facing the Gulf Coast can be daunting when we see threats ranging from climate change to land loss and from man-made and natural disasters,” Alyssa Dausman, Ph.D. vice president for Science at The Water Institute of the Gulf explained. “However, Audubon’s wide sweep of work and their collaboration with numerous partners shows the power of working together to achieve a common goal -- a healthy, restored Gulf Coast for birds and people alike.”
Over the last 80 years, more than 1,800 square miles of coastal forests, marshes, beaches and barrier islands have turned into open water in Louisiana alone, putting more than 2 million people at risk of flooding and threatening vital habitat on which birds and other species depend. Audubon’s Vision: Restoring the Gulf of Mexico for Birds and People identifies 8.1 million acres of highly suitable habitat across the Gulf for Audubon’s flagship species. The report highlights 30 projects that will collectively address the recovery and population health of these birds as Audubon continues to determine how sea level rise will affect the Gulf and identify ways to better support these species.
“As we move forward with the largest ecosystem restoration effort ever undertaken, it's enormously helpful to have access to this kind of information and thinking,” said Ben Scaggs, executive director at Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. “It’s evident that Audubon clearly understands the inextricable link between and among varying species - including our own.”
With deep roots and a sustained presence on the Gulf, Audubon is committed to securing a brighter future for the bird and human communities of this vital region. Implementing priority projects and programs focusing on restoration, conservation, research and stewardship, the National Audubon Society addresses the recovery and population health of the 11 flagship species. For a full project list and details or to learn more and get involved, visit www.audubon.org/gulf.
About Audubon The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more how to help at www.audubon.org and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.
Contact: Jacques Hebert, firstname.lastname@example.org, (504) 264-6849.