America’s WETLAND Foundation focuses on outreach and education, working primarily on state-wide and regional scales.
Founded in 2002, America’s WETLAND Foundation (AWF) was established to raise awareness of Louisiana’s devastating coastal land loss and the corresponding economic and environmental consequences for the nation. As a balanced forum for problem-solving and sharing of best practices, the Foundation’s goal has been to transcend historic and parochial differences for the greater good of safeguarding vital ecosystems and economic assets that support the U.S. economy and provide for domestic energy security. The Foundation’s work extends beyond Louisiana to the Gulf region through its America’s Energy Coast initiative to highlight the national and global importance of the Gulf Coast and to empower communities to sustain their cultures, environments and economies by planning for greater resiliency.
Since its inception, the Foundation and its partners have influenced public opinion, increased public support for conservation, and focused national and world attention on the value of wetlands in all corners of the Earth through several initiatives in and beyond Louisiana. The Foundation’s steadfast message that America’s WETLAND is of global ecological significance and key to domestic economic and energy security continues to drive a growing portfolio of regional, national and international initiatives.
AWF has partnered with many local and national organizations to move its initiatives forward. Local partners include the Center for Planning Excellence, Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Greater New Orleans Foundation, Parishes Against Coastal Erosion, Louisiana Sheriffs Association and the Louisiana Police Jury Association, while national partners include The Nature Conservancy and the National Wildlife Federation, among others.
AWF works with officials and stakeholders in Louisiana, as well as neighboring Gulf States, on a regular basis (at least weekly) through both formal and informal collaboration and outreach efforts to address region-wide resiliency efforts. Some of these methods have included focus groups, interviews, leadership forums, electronic newsletters and social media. AWF conducts several ongoing educational and volunteer-based initiatives in the state. In 2009, AWF launched Storm Warning: Last Stand for America’s WETLAND, a series of events held at the start of each hurricane season designed to focus national attention on the impact of Louisiana’s coastal erosion and wetland loss. This initiative annually engages the public to communicate that coastal erosion is a national disaster requiring a national response and to raise awareness of the important role coastal wetlands play in protecting Louisiana from hurricanes. In addition, the America’s WETLAND Conservation Corps engages hundreds of volunteers in hands-on coastal restoration and recovery activities that include vegetative planting, restorative interventions, community-wide clean-ups and educational projects for members, volunteers and communities.
Much of AWF’s recent work has focused on issues spanning the Gulf Coast. The Blue Ribbon Resilient Communities initiative engaged more than 1,100 stakeholders in communities across the Gulf Coast to assess local vulnerabilities in the face of growing coastal degradation and provide a forum to discuss and outline authentic solutions. To further this initiative, AWF partnered with Entergy Corporation to commission a large-scale study to quantify the value of Gulf Coast assets and address specific vulnerabilities to rising sea levels, fiercer and more frequent hurricanes, and environmental degradation. These initiatives gave forum participants an opportunity to assess their community’s vulnerabilities and outline steps to improve resiliency. Results synthesize layers of local feedback, which have culminated in two reports: Building a Resilient Energy Gulf Coast and Beyond Unintended Consequences: Adaptation for Gulf Coast Resiliency and Sustainability. The dozens of recommendations presented in these reports have already begun to influence State and Federal policies.