MangroLife: A Youth Project to Better our Environment

By Patricio Flores
MAY 30, 2021

Pollution has taken a reckoning on our Earth. Factories, along with industry and technological advancements that benefit our quality of life, often make the future for the Earth and our descendants worse. However, every person can contribute to a  change for the better; no matter how big or small. A perfect example of this is Jonah Basi, a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, whose mangrove restoration and trash cleanup project, named “MangroLife,” has come a long way to help the South Florida environment.

Jonah’s MangroLife project is fueled by the work of volunteers who paddleboard in Florida waterways. During these outings, volunteers complete two key goals simultaneously; picking up trash, and transplanting “propagules,” also known as Mangrove tree saplings. The transplants take floating saplings and put them in places where they can thrive.

These goals have innumerable benefits. Not only do the Mangrove trees benefit animals, but humans as well. First of all, less trash in waterways helps both human and animal residents of the area. For animals, it provides a more suitable habitat; and for humans, a cleaner looking environment.This also gets plastics and other trash with long decay times to the proper treatment locations. The Mangrove sapling transplants have many benefits as well. The Mangrove tree is arguably the most important tree in South Florida, because of how much land they take up, and because they act like a nutrient sponge, taking excess nutrients from the water and using them. These excess nutrients, when left unchecked,  can cause algae blooms which kill a lot of wildlife. Large groves of Mangrove located near sea walls can absorb hurricane force waves, something which Floridians are familiar with. Absorbing a lot of the impact of these waves saves the state countless tax dollars needed to repair and upkeep seawalls.

Jonah was able to combine resources from people and organizations to set up his project meetups. He enlisted help from his mother, who teaches at STA, to organize and advocate  for the project. She helps to organize student volunteers, and reaches out to city officials about mangrove plantings and trash cleanups. Jonah has also worked with the city of Wilton Manors, and he is in the process of reaching out to other organizations and student clubs throughout the  STA campus.

Jonah Basi has developed an incredible volunteer project for the good of our Earth, and all of our futures, and he has yet to graduate high school. Jonah stated, ”I’d like to stress the importance of youth advocacy for the environment. Of all the issues that we face today, maintaining a healthy earth for both the future of our own lives and for the lives of those who come after us is of the absolute highest importance. Young people have the most to lose in the looming climate crisis, and only through our own advocacy can we hope to ensure a cleaner and healthier future for the planet.” Regardless of age or obstacles, anyone can chip in and do their part to enact change.  Whether it be volunteering, or creating your own project like Jonah, everyone should strive to create a better future for our Earth.

For more information on how to get involved, email Jonah Basi at jonah.basi@aquinas-sta.org, or Jessica Basi jessica.basi@aquinas-sta.org. You can also contact Jessica Basi in person after most school days in room 527, where Jonah may also be found on Gold days.