USA: Florida: Mangrove Restoration at West Lake (Broward County)

West Lake Park, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida USA (July 19, 1989); Credit: Robin Lewis
West Lake Park, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida USA (October 22, 1991); Credit: Robin Lewis
West Lake Park, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida USA (January 27, 1996); Credit: Robin Lewis


Mangrove restoration has been attempted in many places around the world, but failures have been common and much money has been wasted. Hydrologic restoration–i.e. planning for restored hydrology and natural colonization of seedlings–appears to be the most cost effective form of mangrove restoration. This project employed that strategy and resulted in the successful establishment of 500 hectares of mangroves at West Lake in Broward County, Florida. In addition to facilitating the cost-effective development of viable mangrove habitat, the modified hydrologic design also included tidal creeks that allowed proper hydrology to support restored fish habitat.

Quick Facts

Project Location:
West Lake, Hollywood, Broward County, FL, USA, 26.0369431, -80.12401539999996

Geographic Region:
North America

Country or Territory:
United States of America


Estuaries, Marshes & Mangroves

Area being restored:
500 hectares

Project Lead:
Lewis Environmental Services, Inc.

Organization Type:
Consultant / Consulting Company


Project Stage:

Start Date:

End Date:

Primary Causes of Degradation

Urbanization, Transportation & Industry

Degradation Description

The West Lake estuary and watershed is an urban/suburban estuary ecosystem with one of the largest ports in the USA (Port Everglades). Dredging and filling in support of this port have modified both the shallow edge and bottom of the estuary. Home development along the shore was proposed, and portions of the land purchased for US$20 million and converted to a county Park (total area 600 ha, 500 ha of mangrove and open water), domestic and industrial waste discharges, and habitat loss due to poor management have all contributed to the degradation of the estuary.

Reference Ecosystem Description

The natural resources found within the park’s boundaries include approximately 123 different bird species(including 20 that are Rare, Threatened or Endangered in the state of Florida), 10 animal species, over 80 forms of plant life, and 86 species of fish including the snook (a species of special concern in the state of Florida).

Project Goals

The restoration of 500 ha of mangrove forest through hydrologic improvements to blocked mangroves, and the removal of 80 ha of historical dredged material fill.


The project does not have a monitoring plan.


The local government is responsible for the planning, design, implementation, evaluation and oversight of this project.

Description of Project Activities:
**Australian pine areas, growing on higher filled land, are selected for reforestation by mangroves. **The pines are removed from the site. The now-cleared land is ready for heavy equipment earthwork. **The land elevation is lowered to a height suitable for natural seed establishment of mangrove propagules. In West Lake, the desired elevation is from +0.9 to +1.4 feet above sea level. The earth removal stage is known as "scrapedown." **Channels are constructed within the scrapedown sites to assist mangrove seed dispersal by tidal waters. Small fish begin to utilize the channels. **Mangrove seeds of red, black and white mangrove begin floating in immediately to revegetate the site. Wading birds utilize the newly-created wetland to search for fish.

Ecological Outcomes Achieved

Eliminate existing threats to the ecosystem:
80 ha of persistent new mangrove forest have been added to the ecosystem, and an additional 420 ha of mangroves have received improved hydrology.

Socio-Economic & Community Outcomes Achieved

Economic vitality and local livelihoods:
While the County's major emphasis is on restoring and preserving the environmentally sensitive natural habitats of West Lake, the site ultimately will include minimal facilities aimed at providing public education and recreational amenities. Plans include the construction of the Anne Kolb Nature Center and outdoor classroom, multi-use boardwalks, fishing facilities, small boat launching site, public observation areas, and hiking trails.

Key Lessons Learned

Proper research into the existing hydrology prior to the design of the final restoration program resulted in a savings of US$15 million, since the first restoration program was estimated to cost US$20 million, but the final approved design did more for the ecosystem at less cost.

Long-Term Management

The entire restoration site is publicly owned and managed as a Broward County park. Active removal of invasive exotic plants like Australian pine (Casuarina spp.) and Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius) occurs to prevent loss of shoreline mangroves that these species compete with. Annual educational and training programs entitled “Mangrove Forest Ecology, Management and Restoration” are taught at the Anne Kolb Nature Center which is part of the facility. Park staff participate in the course to improve their skills at managing the ecosystem.

Sources and Amounts of Funding

5,000,000 USD Broward County Parks and Recreation Department, a branch of local government, is providing $5 million US for the restoration and $20 million US for the land purchase necessary to establish a county park.

Other Resources

Roy R. “Robin” Lewis III, Professional Wetland Scientist
Certified Senior Ecologist, Ecological Society of America
Board Certified Environmental Professional #1161
President, Lewis Environmental Services, Inc.
PO Box 5430
Salt Springs, FL 32134-5430
Street Address: 23797 NE 189th Street, Salt Springs, FL 32134
Voice: 01-888-889-9684
or 01-352-546-4842
Fax: 01-352-546-5224
Mobile: 01-813-505-3999
Satellite Phone: 011-8816-3141-4629
Satellite Messaging:

Primary Contact

Organizational Contact