Oil Spill Recovery: Expert Ecology Team Needed
The April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers and set in motion an environmental disaster. NatureServe mourns with the families whose loved ones lost their lives in this tragedy as well as with those whose lives are and will be affected by its consequences. The release of massive amounts of oil from the deep-sea well is already having catastrophic effects on the people, plants, and animals of the Gulf Coast whose lives depend on the rich freshwater, coastal, and marine ecosystems of the region.
The public and private resources mobilized to respond to this disaster will benefit from accurate scientific data and analysis of the spill’s impacts on at-risk species and ecosystems. A review of past spills reveals that reliable baseline data are critical to recovery and restoration efforts. The current emergency creates an urgent need to provide federal and state officials, conservation professionals, and volunteers with access to current and standardized baseline data for the Gulf Coast. Furthermore, it is essential to establish and commit to measurable restoration targets for ecosystem function rather than to focus on protecting only the most charismatic species.
NatureServe and its member programs across the southeastern U.S. are helping evaluate the potential impacts of the oil spill on sensitive wetlands and species, and are engaging with agencies responsible for mitigating those impacts. Our expert ecological team is updating sensitive area maps to guide coastal protection, and laying plans to set measurable recovery goals and evaluate and map threats to freshwater species at risk of exposure. We are prepared to rapidly deploy a team of expert ecologists to help develop and implement strategies that will improve the quality of the rapid but rigorous scientific evaluation that this devastating chain of events now demands.
We have contacted numerous federal and state agencies, as well as several members of Congress, about the crisis and the need to approach it strategically and with reliable information. The strategies they implement must both safeguard and ensure the long-term recovery of native species and natural communities of the Gulf Coast, as well as the human communities whose livelihoods the spill has jeopardized.
Read more about NatureServe's response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill ...