Teenager Theo Quenee replants mangroves to help rebuild South Florida landscape

Miami-based teen, Theo Quenee, is helping to preserve and protect the South Florida landscape, having planted hundreds of mangroves to replace trees trampled by last year’s Hurricane Irma.

Mangroves are an essential part of a marine eco-system. In addition to providing a healthy and complex habitat for fish, sharks, and turtles, they also protect the coastline from erosion.

Though the tropical storm, Hurricane Irma, wreaked havoc on buildings and properties, Theo Quenee was primarily shocked by how many mangroves had been damaged by the tropical storm.

The 18-year-old noticed that there were hundreds of red mangrove seedlings mixed in with the debris lining the streets of his neighbourhood in Miami.

He said: “After the hurricane there was a massive amount of [mangrove] seedlings mixed within the seaweed/debris mixture. Everything was then going to be gathered and thrown in a truck to dump at a landfill. I realised that all of South Florida would ultimately kill thousands of mangroves in the clean-up process.”

Theo Quenee, who is a freshman at Florida International University, built a greenhouse on his roof so the little trees could get a sufficient amount of sunlight and humidity. Then, he filled the greenhouse with 524 seedlings that were separated into individual yogurt buckets.

Seven months later, with over 400 red mangrove propagules left, the trees were ready to be planted. After consulting with some NOAA scientists and learning more through Google searches, Quenee settled on a location rich in soil nutrients despite being damaged by Hurricane Irma.

He enlisted the help of friends to build a PVC pipe grid for the mangroves. They planted over 400 trees in just a few days.

Now the environmental guardian is waiting to see how the mangroves will hold out in the elements. Theo Quenee said: “The area I planted them in is pretty rich in nutrients, it has good muddy soil and a good amount of water so I think they’ll be doing well where they’re at.

The photographer and cinematographer is also hoping his mangroves will help with coastal erosion and make a good home for wildlife in the area.

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea


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