Central wetlands reforestation collective (CWRC)

The Central Wetlands Reforestation Collective (CWRC) is a group of organizations that are re-establishing a bald cypress and water tupelo bottomland hardwood forest near New Orleans. The partners in the collective are: CRCL, Common Ground Relief, CSED of the Lower 9th Ward, Arlene & Joseph Meraux Foundation and Pontchartrain Conservancy. The project is also supported by the St. Bernard Wetlands Foundation, a critical land owner, financial supporter and founder of the efforts to reforest the Central Wetlands; the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, which provides expertise and boats; the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority; and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Originally formed four years ago, this collective meets regularly to amplify the impact of the work each organization does individually. Working alongside community stakeholders, this group uses native plant restoration projects to reforest the wetlands, resulting in improved ecosystem services including mitigating the impacts of hurricanes, higher quality habitat and a stronger connection between communities and the landscape. These restoration projects are a tool to build capacity in the surrounding communities by educating and engaging residents in the important work of coastal restoration.

Why it matters

About 2,000 square miles of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands have turned into open water since the 1930s. The Central Wetlands Unit has been identified as a priority restoration project in Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan.

The Central Wetlands are in St. Bernard and Orleans Parishes and are bordered by the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet (AKA MR-GO) and Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System (HSDRRS) on the eastern side and the 40 Arpent Levee and Canal on the west side. Historically, the area was primarily bald cypress and water tupelo swamp, fresh marsh and bottomland hardwood forest. Factors including the opening of the MR-GO and heavy logging destroyed the forest that provided storm surge protection to New Orleans and St. Bernard. The MR-GO, which was blamed for helping funnel storm surge into St. Bernard Parish and the Lower 9th Ward during Hurricane Katrina, was closed in 2009, lowering the salinity of the water in the wetlands and re-creating the conditions that had existed there for centuries.

This project will:

Plant more than


native Trees

Plant more than


Plugs of marsh grass

plant more than


transplants of aquatic vegetation

engage more than



People can join the reforestation project as volunteers through the partner organizations. To learn about specific volunteer opportunities, check the groups’ websites or follow us on social media.

cwrc partners and sponsors:

The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana’s mission is to unite people in action to achieve a thriving, sustainable Louisiana coast for all.

Common Ground Relief is dedicated to fostering environmental and community stewardship in southeast Louisiana so that residents can survive and thrive.

The Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement & Development is a grassroots organization devoted to restoring New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward as
a safe, environmentally just and economically vibrant community – and one of the first to become carbon-neutral in North America.

The Arlene & Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation is a private family foundation on a continuous mission to improve the quality of life in St. Bernard Parish.
Its roots spread throughout the community to grow the economy, nurture the arts, enrich educational opportunities, empower young people, protect and
restore our environment, and create resilience.

Pontchartrain Conservancy’s mission is to drive environmental sustainability and stewardship through scientific research, education, and advocacy.