Volunteers build an oyster reef in Alabama's Mobile Bay to help restore the Gulf of Mexico.
Oyster Restoration Volunteers build an oyster reef in Alabama's Mobile Bay to help restore the Gulf of Mexico. © Erika Nortemann/TNC

Stories in the Gulf of Mexico

What We Do in the Gulf of Mexico

The Nature Conservancy is conserving the lands and waters central to the Gulf of Mexico’s way of life. We are restoring healthy shorelines, protecting the Gulf’s waters, and ensuring that diverse communities benefit from Gulf restoration.

The Conservancy has been active in the Gulf States for more than 35 years – protecting critical landscapes through land acquisition, pioneering on-the-ground and in-the-water restoration projects, and advocating for policies to achieve large-scale conservation in each of the Gulf States. We are working with partners to address the Gulf’s most acute problems and by recognizing the Gulf as a whole and connected natural system.

Restoring healthy shorelines

Restoring damaged shorelines to reduce community vulnerability makes economic and ecological sense. The Conservancy is working with deferral, state, and local governments to demonstrate the value and effectiveness of shoreline restoration to reduce risks from storms and floods while improving fish and wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities. By designing and sponsoring projects the Conservancy is trying to strengthen shorelines and demonstrate that restoration is a cost effective way to reduce vulnerability to storms while at the same time re-creating important habitat for the Gulf’s resident and migratory species.

Protecting the Gulf’s waters

Many of the Gulf’s most important natural shoreline features – oyster reefs, mangrove forests, and marshes – require regular flows of clean fresh water for survival. Sixty percent of the land in the United States drains into the Gulf of Mexico, so the condition of forests, prairies, and wetlands far upstream play an important role in its health. The Conservancy’s Gulf of Mexico program is cooperating with our similar initiatives in the Upper and Lower Mississippi regions to help farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners to bring back natural areas to reduce the flow of nutrients into rivers and streams.

Ensuring communities benefit from restoration

The Conservancy is committed to ensuring that local communities benefit from restoration jobs, are more resilient to storms, and floods, and are able to maintain traditional cultural connections between people and the Gulf. Restoration of the Gulf will create jobs, strengthen community resilience, and contribute to long-term economic renewal by sustaining tourism and improving critical nursery areas important to the Gulf’s recreational and commercial fisheries.