Gulf Ecosystem Restoration

Projected Coastal Land Loss in Louisiana, 1932-2050

Projected Coastal Land Loss in Louisiana, 1932-2050. Source: Gulf Restoration Network based on LA CPRA State Master Plan 2012

Wetlands Destroyed by Oil and Gas Operations, LA. Photo Courtesy of Jeffrey Dubinsky for Louisiana Environmental Action Network.

Wetlands Destroyed by Oil and Gas Operations, LA. Photo Courtesy of Jeffrey Dubinsky for Louisiana Environmental Action Network.

Loss of coastal land is a significant problem in many areas, but it is most acutely felt in the Gulf Coast region, especially Louisiana. Since the 1930s, Louisiana has lost almost 2,000 square miles of coastal land and wetlands to open water due to a host of interrelated pressures on coastal systems, including loss of wetland sediment supply due to construction of extensive levee systems, subsidence, damage caused by oil and gas industry operations, sea level rise, and other natural and anthropogenic factors. According to a 2011 US Geological Survey study, loss of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands is proceeding at an average rate of about a football field an hour, threatening the safety of coastal communities that rely on wetlands for protection from storm surge during hurricanes. Louisiana’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan, unanimously adopted by the state legislature in May 2012, is a science-based coastal management plan that maps out a comprehensive $50 billion plan to increase community protection from storms and slow (or reverse) coastal land loss through sediment diversions and other large-scale restoration projects.

River-built land in Breton Sound, Plaquemines Parish, LA. Photo courtesy of Scott Eustis/Gulf Restoration Network.

River-built land in Breton Sound, Plaquemines Parish, LA. Photo courtesy of Scott Eustis/Gulf Restoration Network.

In conjunction with the work of partners such as the Gulf Restoration Network and the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign, SouthWings flights continue to help policymakers, community leaders, NGOs, and scientists grasp the scale of coastal land loss and make better-informed choices about tackling this ongoing challenge.