Blue Education: Global Green’s Latest Workshop a Success

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On May 22, Global Green’s Louisiana Wetland Action Program and Tierra Resources LLC presented their Blue Carbon Workshop at the St. Charles Parish Regional Library in Luling, Louisiana. Months of preparation and vigorous outreach efforts yielded over 25 attendees ranging from wetland owners, to foundation representatives, to students, to a documentary filmmaker.  Attendees were treated to presentations from a number of wetland restoration innovators.

In the words of Webster Pierce, “Take a book away from an engineer and he’s lost; take a book away from an inventor, and he goes outside the box.” Louisiana’s environment is changing rapidly (as in, disappearing at the rate of a football fields an hour) and saving it for posterity calls for the creative thinking showcased at Global Green’s latest workshop.

Inventors 

Webster Pierce proudly presents his invention.

Webster Pierce is a Cut Off, Louisiana native who uses his ingenuity to restore and protect the Gulf. At the workshop he showcased his recently patented Wave RobberTM, a sediment retention system meant to rebuild wetlands.  When waves slide into this device, situated along degrading coastlines, they slow down at a speed and angle that causes them to leave behind their sediment and build new wetlands. Pierce has started a new company based on the Wave RobberTM, and sold his invention internationally. The device is fairly light weight and does not rust or deteriorate in the water (a plus for anybody maintaining it).

Jo Ann Bentz from Erosion Management Services spoke about her company’s new-and-improved bulkheads that combine hard and soft materials to fight against erosion. Standard bulkheads protect shorelines and banks from erosion but do not restore an area’s vegetation. EMS’ design incorporates interlocking bags filled with local soil that allows plant roots to grow and stabilize canal banks, ditches and shorelines, as evidenced by the company’s pilot project in Braithwaite and other locales worldwide.

    

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John Boatman, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service director for Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes, was pleased to present the ue to use a landowner’s property without possessing it. Conservation easements are an opportunity for wetland owners to receive free preservation assistance and restore their wetlands for little or no cost.  Since LWAP’s goal is to connect wetland owners with unique conservation opportunities, Mr. Boatman’s presentation was an important piece of education for this group.nds Reserve Program to an audience that included wetland owners.  The program focuses on easements, or the right of an entity implementing a conservation technique to use a landowner’s property without possessing it. Conservation easements are an opportunity for wetland owners to receive free preservation assistance and restore their wetlands for little or no cost.  Since LWAP’s goal is to connect wetland owners with unique conservation opportunities, Mr. Boatman’s presentation was an important piece of education for this group.

 

Blue Carbon Project Developer

Dr. Mack explains blue carbon.

In keeping with Global Green’s goal of educating stakeholders, Dr. Sarah Mack of  gave Wednesday’s audience an in-depth presentation on the carbon market, “blue carbon” and just how her company, Tierra Resources, would develop a wetland offset project.

Wetland vegetation (i.e. mangroves, cypress, and salt grass) has been proven to absorb carbon dioxide at a quicker rate than terrestrial forests as it accretes. Wetland soil is densely packed, filled with decay and therefore able to store CO2 for long periods of time—hence the basic science behind blue carbon.  Tying wetlands’ carbon sequestration potential to the carbon market is the latest financial incentive for coastal restoration.

Dr. Mack supplemented her presentation with a tour of Tierra Resource’s offset pilot project in Luling, which uses treated wastewater to restore the vegetation and generate carbon offsets.  Workshop attendees walked single-file through the bayou-based experiment, where frequently measured trees tower above a narrow boardwalk.  At the project’s border, a pipe system provides wastewater that has been treated in the adjacent wastewater ponds.

 

Workshop attendees board the trail winding through Tierra Resources' carbon offset project.

This project is a win-win for the region: There are no major levees near Luling, making the protection that comes with restored wetlands a local priority.  St. Charles Parish is also avoiding the cost of building a new water treatment plant, since the wastewater is being assimilated in the wetlands. Finally, the landowner group that enrolled its property in this project will receive money generated through the sale of carbon offsets, providing an economic incentive for being good stewards of the land.