Black Mangrove Planting Program
ABLE enlisted the help of St. Bernard Parish Government (SBPG) and Nicholls State University (NSU) in 2016 to initiate a Black Mangrove Planting Program in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. The program is focused on increasing black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) habitat along the eastern outlying islands of the Biloxi Marsh Complex for the purpose of: (1) restoring/creating essential fish habitat ; (2) increasing the overall health and resilience of the coastal ecosystem, including providing habitat for a number of threatened and endangered birds ; and (3) reducing risk to life and property in the region by enhancing natural storm surge defenses and protecting inland flood control infrastructure.
Phase 1: Propagule Collection/Potting
The black mangrove is a native coastal wetland plant species that performs a number of valuable functions, including: cleansing excess nutrients and pollutants, providing nursery habitat for crustaceans and fish, providing food for marine habitat, and nesting areas for birds. The plants are also highly valuable in the carbon sequestration process and have extensive root systems which strengthen and sustain the shoreline, thereby mitigating the impacts of storm surge. Black mangrove propagules are collected from existing black mangrove stands in St. Bernard Parish each year and transported to the Chalmette High School (CHS) green house. Each collection effort should yield approximately 1,500 propagules.
Phase 2: Greenhouse Monitoring/Reporting
Potted propagules are monitored weekly by CHS 4-H students at the direction of local public officials and NSU partners. The propagules are photographed each week and shared with team members in order to ensure the health and growth of the young plants.
Phase 3: Strategic Planting Site Selection
SBPG and its program partners selected sites in the Biloxi Marsh Complex for the initial planting of 1,000 black mangrove seedlings. First, historical aerial imagery was reviewed to ensure that these selected sites are not exhibited highly accelerated rates of erosion compared to the background rate of the region. Thereafter a pre-restoration site visit was performed to thoroughly examine the existing plant community composition and density at the potential restoration sites to ensure compatibility with the planting of mangrove seedlings.
Phase 4: Strategic Planting
Once transported to the sites, appropriate marsh surface elevations for the transplantation of black mangroves were demarcated. The initial planting were conducted by volunteers at the direction of NSU and other experienced program partners. Seedlings for the second- and third-year plantings will be obtained via the local greenhouses and commercial purchase or donation. The ultimate goal is to strategically plant a minimum of 1,000 new seedlings each spring during the life of the program.
Phase 5: Strategic Planting Monitoring/Reporting
Program partners will conduct site visits, take before-and-after photos and video of all strategic planting sites, and will appropriately document site conditions both pre- and post-intervention. Immediately subsequent to completion of strategic plantings, the elevation and location of each mangrove seedling will be recorded. The survivorship of all planted mangroves will be determined in spring, summer, and fall of each year. Also, any establishment of new mangroves through propagule recruitment will be noted.