Explore EDF’s 2021 wins

We protect and restore vital ecosystems to fight climate change and build resilient communities.

Photo credit: Getty

New protections for storm-battered coasts

Plans for the largest individual ecosystem restoration effort in U.S. history reached a major milestone this year, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave the thumbs-up to an EDF-backed plan to restore thousands of acres of precious Louisiana wetlands.

In a state that loses, on average, one football field of land to the sea every 100 minutes, the $1.8 billion project in the Mississippi River Delta will help shield Louisiana’s embattled coastal communities and the city of New Orleans from storm surge and flooding. The restored wetlands will also provide vital habitat for countless species of wildlife.

As climate changes, and seas warm and rise, the historic city of New Orleans faces ever greater risk of flooding. Rebuilding coastal wetlands can help. (Photo credit: Getty)

“EDF is a vital partner in Louisiana’s efforts to implement some of the largest, most ambitious ecosystem restoration projects anywhere on the planet.”

Bren Haas Executive Director, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Louisiana.

The vast undertaking is part of EDF’s rapidly expanding work to protect our coasts, and coastal communities, from climate change, which every year pummels the U.S. with stronger, wetter storms and higher seas, placing millions of homes and livelihoods at risk.

In New York, where nearly half a million people face the risk of coastal flooding, we are part of a coalition pushing to secure a $3 billion state investment in seashore and wetland restoration, water quality improvements and more. In Florida, we helped persuade authorities to expand flood protection efforts to incorporate coral reefs and mangroves, which also play an important role in wildlife protection. We are also engaged in resilience projects in New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Cuba, drawing on more than three decades of expertise gained in Louisiana.

Protecting coastal Louisiana also safeguards habitat for this piping plover chick, one of millions of migratory birds that pass through the region each year. (Photo credit: Gregory Gard)

$1.8 million

One square kilometer of coastal wetlands saves an average of $1.8 million a year in property damage from storms.

Of the Louisiana milestone, part of the state’s 50-year, $50 billion plan to address its land loss crisis, EDF’s head of coastal resilience, Natalie Snider, said: “This critical decision is an exciting stride forward in our efforts to protect people and nature in one of the most unique and beautiful parts of the country.”

What’s next?

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision means final permits to begin work could be issued as soon as 2022. The project will harness the power of the mighty Mississippi River to shift massive amounts of sediment to gradually rebuild and maintain 28 square miles of coastal land.

On the ground
Hold back the floods

Angela Chalk founded Healthy Community Services to fortify her community’s defenses against hurricanes and floods. The devastation caused by Hurricane Ida this summer only reinforced the need for bold action: “With the disappearing of land in Louisiana goes our culture, our history, our people. If this coast erodes much more, New Orleans is going to end up with the Gulf of Mexico at our front doors. We are resilient but we can’t continue to be sitting ducks. Pushing for action begins in the community but governments and utilities must uphold their end too.”

On the ground (Photo credit: Julie Dermansky)

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