TNC and Palm Beach County (PBC) have completed the Palm Beach Resilient Island project in Lake Worth Lagoon, utilizing nature to create critical habitat for imperiled shorebirds and marine life while helping to protect nearby shorelines by reducing the impact of waves resulting from boat wakes and storms.
The project—made possible with funding from the Batchelor Foundation and Carrier Corporation—expanded and enhanced a small remnant island within sight of downtown West Palm Beach. TNC and Palm Beach County engineers introduced a new construction design using oysters and mangroves: nature-based solutions that both fortify the island’s shoreline and create essential habitats.
The one-acre island is made up of limestone, sand and shells from nearby dredging projects in the lagoon. The oysters improve the surrounding water quality, its mangroves store carbon, and both features provide critical nursery habitats for fish and other marine organisms.
The restoration effort will achieve a new milestone on August 19, 2022, when 1,000 young mangroves donated by Duke Energy and the Coastal Conservation Association, and native species and essential vegetation will be planted on the island by a group of conservationists and volunteers including employees from Carrier's global headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens. Carrier has collaborated with TNC to help communities around the world become more resilient and sustainable.
Mangrove installation at the island
“With the impacts of climate change becoming more and more evident, the need to find innovative solutions that help us adapt becomes more urgent. This joint effort with Palm Beach County is a perfect example of not only innovation, but also the importance of collaboration in the face of great challenges, and is a model that can be replicated and scaled across the state to help us adapt and tackle the root cause of climate change by storing carbon,” stated Temperince Morgan, TNC’s Executive Director in Florida.
The 20-mile-long Lake Worth Lagoon stretches from North Palm Beach to Ocean Ridge. Wildlife such as manatees, green sea turtles and more than 100 species of birds call this estuary home. Over the last century, development and dredging have dramatically altered the landscape, replacing mangrove habitats and natural shorelines with seawalls and other human-made structures. Palm Beach County has worked to improve habitats along the Lake Worth Lagoon shoreline within the last decade by creating multiple islands and mangrove restoration projects.
“Without national attention and funding, restoration in Lake Worth Lagoon has always been community driven, and the Palm Beach Resilient Island project is a shining example of that collaboration. When corporations, non-profits, communities and governments work together, the result is not just habitat restoration, but a community that is more connected to where they live and one that makes more sustainable choices for the future,” said Benji Studt, Public Outreach Supervisor for PBC Environmental Resources Management. “These partnerships have enabled Lake Worth Lagoon, and the hundreds of acres of habitat restoration realized over the past 25 years, to be a global example of what we can achieve when we work together at the local level.
“As the leading global provider of healthy, safe, sustainable and intelligent building and cold chain solutions, Carrier is committed to promoting sustainability through education, partnerships and climate resiliency programs. We recognize that we have a responsibility and opportunity to prioritize solutions that help address climate challenges,” said Kori Recalde, Senior Director, Environmental, Social & Governance, Carrier. “This hands-on project is one small way we can help to drive climate resiliency right here in Palm Beach County."
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 70 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.