The America’s Wetland Foundation is calling for a plan that will make restoration of the coast attractive to business, particularly along the Gulf Coast. A meeting held at the Tabasco headquarters on Avery Island, Louisiana revealed the need for the scientific community to communicate with the private sector and encourage investment in imperative coastal restoration projects.
Val Marmillion, managing director of AWF, said, “This was a rare chance for a candid, high level discussion about the great prospects for and barriers to private sector participation in restoration, as well as the opportunities to remove those barriers by applying innovation and common sense to ‘business as usual’ practices.” As a part of AWF’s America’s Energy Coast initiative, experts from impacted communities met with representatives from the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the RESTORE Council, as well as various federal and state agencies, universities, investment banks, industry heads and state government and non-governmental organizations.
The forum explored emerging models for funding restoration projects and encouraging more private investment in the restoration of Louisiana coast and wetlands. It is important, Marmillion said, “to move quickly forward on transition projects that will keep the ecosystem functioning, while awaiting outcomes from the list of recommended big project solutions.”
Such transition projects include the shoring up of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway banks where they have been compromised and saltwater has intruded, threatening freshwater marshes. This project has been chosen as a demonstration project with partners such as Ducks Unlimited, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, private landowners and Martin Ecosystems of Baton Rouge, AWF’s senior advisor Sidney Coffee said. It is critical, she added, to demonstrate these new solutions in order to “get the ball rolling” on coastal restoration. It is essential, the group noted, that a company’s business include “sustaining the natural resources that impact profitability and livability.”
“We are all faced with the same reality that there are natural and governmental forces that work against us. We need to put all these resources together and really begin to speak with a shared voice,” said R. King Milling,Chairman, America’s WETLAND Foundation.