By Emily Roden
Stretched out over 1.5 million acres in South Florida are the Florida Everglades. When you think of this vast “River of Grass” (so coined by Marjory Stoneman Douglas in her 1947 book), many things might come to mind. You might first think about the gators, bugs, and many other creatures that give it charming swampy appeal. You also could think about the various TV shows set around the wetland, including American Horror Story, Bloodline and, of course, The Glades. But one thing you most likely have not considered about the Everglades is its amazing ability to sequester carbon.
Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide found in our atmosphere. The primary Everglades habitats — such as miles of sawgrass marsh, sweeping hardwood hammock and pine forests as well as the mangroves and seagrass beds in Florida Bay — remove carbon from the air through photosynthesis. However, without a healthy ’Glades, this sequestration is stymied. Thankfully, decades of constant work and lobbying by the Everglades Foundation and other organizations has made Everglades restoration a reality, ensuring that fresh water flows south all the way to Florida Bay. It’s imperative to have enough freshwater flow to prevent the Everglades from getting too dry, which would reduce its carbon sequestration magic.
The Florida Everglades Foundation was founded in 1993 by two outdoor enthusiasts — the late George Barley and Paul Tudor Jones II. The organization was created to restore and protect the Florida Everglades, but as the years have passed, it has also become a world-renowned research and educational organization, dedicated to unearthing the facts and conducting practical analysis to help local, state and national leaders make well-informed decisions regarding this celebrated national park. Through its Everglades Literacy Program, the EF also works to educate students in Florida and around the world on the ecological and economic importance of the Everglades.