Restoring the Gulf

A Pew Gulf of Mexico report calls for a more inclusive oil spill restoration plan to aid recovery.

 

By Vickie Chachere

USF News

 

TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 28, 2010) – A new report from the Pew Environmental Group on the restoration of the Gulf of Mexico after the epic 2010 BP oil spill recommends a comprehensive restoration plan that addresses the Gulf’s complex role as a natural habitat that also supports human needs.

 

University of South Florida Geologist Ping Wang, who played a leading role in documenting oil contamination along northern Gulf beaches, is a member of the scientific working group which prepared the report.

 

The complete report, The Once and Future Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem, can be read here. The executive summary can be found here.

 

Noting that the oil spill was only the most recent assault on an ecosystem already suffering from overfishing, coastal development and global climate change, the scientists recommend restoration efforts recognize that future environmental change is “inevitable” and must be factored into restoration plans that recognizes human needs as well as environmental ones.

“The report recommends going beyond the traditional restoration approach that targets specific habitats or species damaged by the oil. Instead, it focuses on the Gulf of Mexico as a whole because it is a complex and continuously changing system that must support the needs of plants, wildlife and humans alike. This inclusive approach is the only way the Gulf can truly recover and thrive in an unpredictable future,” the Pew Environmental Group states in releasing the wide-ranging report.

 

Wang, whose discovery of buried oil on northern Gulf beaches and documenting of the effectiveness of BP’s cleanup efforts provided the public with unprecedented insight into the spill’s widespread contamination, contributed information on coastal geomorphology of the northern Gulf of Mexico coast and its trend of evolution of the Gulf’s ecosystem.

 

Wang is a co-author on several sections, including examinations of sea-level rise and its impact on Gulf of Mexico coastal environments; increased storm intensities and its impact to Gulf of Mexico coastal environments; intensifying human developments and their impact on Gulf coastal natural resources; and restoration of beach environment.

 

Read previous report on Wang and USF’s Coastal Research Laboratory at USF News’ Special Report: Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill.

 

Vickie Chachere can be reached at 813-974-6251.