Eagles Score Carbon Touch Down at Jobos Bay
Habitat restoration projects like these have collateral benefits for local economies. In a 2014 study, NOAA economists found that $1 million invested in coastal restoration creates 17.1 jobs, on average. Photo courtesy of Jobos Bay.
In a first for pro football and the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, the Philadelphia Eagles will sponsor habitat restoration at Puerto Rico’s Jobos Bay Reserve. The goal? Offset carbon emissions from team travel in 2020, while enhancing Puerto Rico’s climate resilience.
Through a partnership with the Ocean Foundation and the Ocean Conservancy, the Eagles will sponsor the restoration of critical mangrove and seagrass habitat at the Reserve, as well as efforts to educate the public on the importance of carbon mitigation and build scientific capacity to do similar work in the future.
The Philadelphia Eagles will sponsor the restoration of critical mangrove and seagrass habitat at the Reserve. Photo courtesy of Jobos Bay.
“We are thrilled to be part of this team,” says Aitza Pabón, manager of the Jobos Bay Reserve, which is a partnership of NOAA and Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural and Environmental Resources. “This is the natural next step for work we have done with NOAA to identify the most important habitats for restoration and with groups like Conservación ConCiencia and a local fishermen association, who are key partners in protecting the places that are the heart and soul of our communities. Their efforts to build community relationships led to our participation in this project.”
The 2,817-acre Reserve helps protect mangrove forests and seagrasses that are carbon-capture superstars. They also mitigate damage from ocean acidification, fortify communities against storm surge and hurricanes, protect coral reefs, and provide sanctuary to endangered species, including the West Indian manatee and green sea turtle.
“These places provide a focus for all of our work,” says Pabón. “Through our coastal training, research, stewardship programs, we’ve been able to do GIS groundwork and build the local interest and support for restoration and carbon mitigation that helped make this investment possible.”
The Reserve protects mangrove forests and seagrasses that capture large amounts of carbon. Photo courtesy of Jobos Bay.
The work at Jobos Bay is part of a System-wide effort to advance the science and practice of blue carbon—the carbon that is captured and stored by coastal and ocean habitats. This includes a decade of work at Massachusetts’ Waquoit Bay to advance blue carbon science and bring this knowledge to bear on decisions to conserve, restore, and manage tidal wetlands around the coastal U.S.
“The challenges we face from climate change and the impacts of development are great,” says Pabon, “but when we can take actions like these here in Puerto Rico and around the Reserve System and the United States, it gives me hope.”
The Reserve is home to endangered species, including the West Indian manatee and green sea turtle. Photo courtesy of Jobos Bay.