We would like to continue our two-year project which has harvested, grown, and planted 2000 red mangrove seedlings along both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida. We are restoring Florida mangrove forests that have been removed for coastal development or replaced by Australian Pine trees in South Florida. We also are planting additional seedlings in areas where red mangrove forests need reinforcement. We currently have vases of mangroves on desks in several local businesses and trays are growing in classrooms in Broward and St. Lucie counties to engage people of all ages with the project. More than 1000 seedlings are in the FIU Shade House and in board members' back yards in germination trays purchased with grant money and will be transplanted to restore native habitats in August. Trowels and small shovels have also been bought with the grant money for the August plantings.
Red mangroves filter and clarify the water, protect coastal communities from storm surge, prevent erosion, and provide a shelter for a wide variety of mammals, aquatic species, reptiles and birds. They are also a staple in the diets of the critically endangered Key Deer. Furthermore, evidence shows that mangroves combat global warming by decreasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Wild Over Wildlife members, Florida International University SEAS, and Lee County 4-H Club members have collected thousands of propagules which are being grown in a variety of homes and in the FIU Shade House. After nine to twelve months, the seedlings will be transplanted to areas along the Gulf and Atlantic shores. We have numerous other non-profit organizations that have collaborated with us for the first two years and we have secured their assistance as the project expands for future plantings. To date, our project has involved more than 100 people including Wild Over Wildlife club members and community service partners. More than 80 hours of community service work has been done by each board member of WOW and others have joined for 6 hour shifts throughout the summer transplants and harvests.