International nonprofit celebrates two decades of ocean and coastal conservation
This year marks an important milestone for the nonprofit WILDCOAST as it’s the 20th anniversary of the Californian and Mexican-based conservation group. WILDCOAST’s binational team conserves coastal and marine ecosystems and addresses climate change through natural solutions.
“I started WILDCOAST twenty years ago with a plan to save some of the world’s most iconic and wildlife-filled coastlines,” says co-founder and executive director Serge Dedina, PhD. “Looking back I think our greatest successes have been the conservation of millions of acres globally important coastlines, islands, coral reefs, mangrove lagoons, wetlands and ocean ecosystems in partnership with governments and local communities.”
Dedina adds, “Our 20-year milestone also represents the efforts of our highly focused, international conservation team that has worked diligently with local communities to protect places that are cherished the world over such as the San Ignacio Lagoon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and gray whale birthing lagoon, as well as to stop the slaughter of endangered wildlife such as sea turtles on the coast of Oaxaca.
A respected conservation group globally, WILDCOAST has had many incredible success stories over the past 20 years. Some of these include:
-Conserving more than 31.6 million acres of some of the most ecologically important coastline, wetlands, islands, and marine wilderness in California and Mexico.
-Helping protect California’s 124 marine protected areas (MPAs) that comprise 545,280 acres of coastal and marine habitat from the Tijuana to Oregon border. These underwater reserves are home to rocky reefs, kelp forests, submarine canyons, sea lion colonies and other marine life.
-Managing, restoring and protecting 40,000 acres of mangrove forest in northwest Mexico, and 300 miles of California gray whale breeding lagoon shoreline on the Baja California Peninsula.
-Protecting 9.3 miles of sea turtle nesting beach in Oaxaca through conservation concessions where more than 58 million olive ridley hatchlings were born between 2017 and 2020 after nearly being decimated as a species
-Protecting 51,491 acres and nearly 37 miles of coastline in pristine Valle de los Cirios in central Baja so it can never be developed.
-Engaging more than 10,000 students from San Diego County park-poor communities and tribes as coastal stewards through youth programs like our Explore My Marine Protected Area educational program that includes floating labs and kayaking trips to San Diego’s marine protected areas.
-Helping crack down on wildlife poaching across 545,280 acres of marine protected areas in California though policy and outreach.
-Restoring 42 acres of wetland and lagoon habitat (blue carbon ecosystems) in San Diego County.
Dedina believes that the WILDCOAST’s successes are due to WILDCOAST’s “small, highly focused international team that can move quickly to preserve threatened coastlines and wildlife.”
So what has surprised Dedina in the course of the team’s conservation? “Little did I know when I launched WILDCOAST 20 years ago that we would become a leader in developing natural climate solutions and especially in the area of mangrove and wetland protection and restoration.”
WILDCOAST is a trailblazer in regard to their blue carbon work. Blue carbon is carbon that is stored in coastal and marine habitats like wetlands, salt marshes, sea grasses and mangrove forests. Scientists have proven that mangroves capture carbon dioxide 5 times more than any other terrestrial plant, and store it 50 times more. Even more so than the rainforest. Capturing carbon reduces greenhouse gases and helps mitigate the effects of climate change. WILDCOAST is actively planting, restoring and protecting mangroves in Mexico as these forests serve as giant carbon sinks. WILDCOAST’s cutting-edge blue carbon work in Mexico was recognized in 2019 as they received the Keeling Curve Prize for their successes.
What do the next 20 years hold for WILDCOAST? “Over the next 20 years WILDCOAST will continue work with local communities to protect places that are cherished the world over as well as stop the slaughter of endangered wildlife. We will also expand our efforts to address climate change through natural solutions as well as to continue to innovate efforts to protect the world’s most beautiful coastal and ocean wildlife hot spots,” declares Dedina.
This September, WILDCOAST is celebrating their 20th anniversary with KEEP IT WILD, An International Fine Art Exhibit + Virtual Auction + Fundraiser from September 25 – October 6. It will feature spectacular works from artists from both sides of the border. WILDCOAST Artist Ambassadors include fine artist Eric Zener, Tijuana-based muralist Luis Garzon Masabo, abstract painter Enrique Ciapara, muralists Celeste Byers and Taylor Gallegos, live painter Clare Salisbury, famed surf photographer Aaron Chang, National Geographic’s Ralph Lee Hopkins, and artists Victor Roman, Marissa Quinn, Robin Piper, Karissa Kaye and more. Hosted by Gracey Lane Art Gallery, the virtual art auction kicks off with a Virtual “Sneak Peak” Happy Hour on Zoom on September 25th at 4pm, and continues for 12 days with Live Art Painting and bidding. WILDCOAST Ambassadors for this event include pro skater Bucky Lasek, musician Luke Mitrani, surfer Greg Long, sustainable chef Davin Waite, sustainable surfboard shaper Aristotle Prakas and more.
To support WILDCOAST’s conservation efforts by purchasing art or making a donation, please go to www.wildcoast.org/keepitwild.
For more information please contact Ann Wycoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WILDCOAST is an international team that conserves coastal and marine ecosystems and addresses climate change through natural solutions. Founded in 2000 and with offices in California and Mexico, WILDCOAST carries out its mission through three strategies: 1) Establish and manage protected areas; 2) Advance conservation policies; and 3) Engage local communities as conservation stewards. In total, WILDCOAST has helped conserve 31.9 million acres of coastal and marine ecosystems. We are a voice for the ocean and coastlines and committed to preserving, restoring and protecting ecologically sensitive and globally significant coastal and marine ecosystems and wildlife for future generations.