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Everglades Foundation’s ‘Stories’ Bring Ecosystem Into Focus

Written By Gina Margillo
July 4, 2024 at 4:52 AM

Amber Moore, Riverwood Field Lab Manager, is featured in one of 20 videos “Everglades Stories from Across the Watershed.” (Photo courtesy of The Everglades Foundation)

The endangered Amazon biome, spanning nine countries in South America, is the single largest remaining tropical rainforest in the world. It houses around 10 percent of the world’s biodiversity, and its river accounts for 15 to 16 percent of the world’s total river discharge into the oceans.

The critical role it plays in maintaining climate, globally, has earned it the title of Lungs of the Planet. The Florida Everglades, the subtropical wilderness known as the River of Grass, is our Amazon. Its expansive mangrove forests act as a carbon sponge that soaks up greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere.  It’s home to the largest continuous seagrass meadows on Earth, the oldest cypress trees on the planet, and over 350 different animal species. Its water systems sustain life for millions of people across the state as the source of drinking water and as the foundation of Florida’s economy.

Despite being declared a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, and Wetland of International Importance, it’s one the most endangered systems in North America. So important is it to our survival, that Congress provided $425 million in its fiscal year 2024 funding for Everglades restoration. Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis committed $740 million in the 2024-2025 budget for Everglades restoration, and President Joe Biden recommended $444 million to restore America’s Everglades in his Fiscal Year 2025 President’s Budget request.

It will take all hands on deck, from government, science, industry, and individuals, to reverse the years of damage that was caused by water diversion and pollution.

For its part, the Everglades Foundation has announced a new initiative, “Everglades Stories from Across the Watershed,”   to connect Floridians to the importance of this ecosystem in our everyday life.

Begoñe Cazalis, director of communications for the Everglades Foundation, has produced and directed a series of 20 engaging videos, each centering around a person who shares knowledge about the critical ecosystem, helping viewers understand what is at stake to lose.

For example, Everglades Foundation Scientist Meenakshi Chabba’s research reveals how its 450,000 square miles of mangroves serve as the greatest absorbers of carbon, making the Everglades one of the best solutions to climate change.  In another video, we meet Captain Steve Friedman, a backcountry fishing guide, who expresses hope that the creation of the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir will reduce harmful discharges by filtering water from Lake Okeechobee to keep the Everglades water clean.

Amber Moore, Riverwood Field Lab Manager in Kissimmee, explains how the waters of central Florida, that feed into the Everglades, are key to protecting the wildlife corridors. The Kissimmee River had dried out for over 60 years, but restoration efforts have the area flourishing again.  Florida is the last stop for many migratory birds before they take off to South America, and Kelly Cox, of Audubon, explains how Everglades restoration efforts will help ensure that their habitats remain healthy.

What emerges from these stories is a deeper understanding of the statewide expanse of the Everglades ecosystem, how it came to be endangered, how it impacts the health and livelihoods of millions for Floridians, and what is being done to restore it.  The stories live on the Everglades Foundation website, its  Youtube channel on its own playlist, and on its Instagram account @Evergladesfoundation.

The Everglades Foundation states that they are the leading science and advocacy organization working to restore and protect the Everglades and has been based in Miami for over 30 years. They say despite being based in Miami, their work covers all of South Florida.

Stay connected with The Everglades Foundation as they release a couple of new videos each week.

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit media source for the arts featuring fresh and original stories by writers dedicated to theater, dance, visual arts, film, music, and more. Don’t miss a story at www.artburstmiami.com.

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