Thesis: Urban Ecology on the Ground Imitating and Implementing Success

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Urban Ecology on the Ground: Imitating and Implementing Success

Urban Ecology Advocacy in Miami

Actually implementing advocacy programs can be much harder than one would suppose. There is the question of funding, planning, and executing program details in order to work and provide real results. Typically, advocacy groups are funded with primarily private donations. In many instances, these groups are left without support from local and regional government. Most advocacy groups face some opposition from local governments, turned off track by "chaotic local politics, unpredictable events, the importance of seizing transitory opportunities, and bureaucratic obstacles or inertia," (Wheeler 2004:50). Fortunately, this is not the case for the Miami-Dade urban ecological effort. Miami, and its surrounding areas, are great natural wonders. Brickell Ave presents no exception. The area holds both the natural wonders of South Florida's natural ecology right alongside the urban sprawl of one of Miami's most populated and well-known areas. The local government has a stake in their blended existence, for tourism in Miami is a major industry. Thus, many urban ecological advocacy groups work in unison with local government efforts. Wanting the same goal of conservation, Miami local governments and urban ecological advocacy groups support each other. These individual advocacy groups do the work, and the government agencies help provide funding and resources. It is a collaborated effort that proves mutually beneficial. However, conservation efforts are also complicated with the large urban population within both the city and county. According to research, "In an urban context, sustainability life implies that the products and energy systems of urban life should be passed on to the larger environmental quality and in the overall quality of life," (Hough 1994:40). This then demands a level of successful conservation in relation to the interests of the people surrounding these natural wonders; this demand can only be met with collaboration. Overall, government works hand in hand with local grass roots advocacy groups. Local city, state, and even federal government departments help provide data, management, and funding of smaller ecological programs. Government authorities work with local program advocates and even businesses within the Miami-Dade area to help fund a plethora of research and advocacy programs aimed at preserving the ecological balance of Miami's coasts and reducing the anthropological impact of coastal areas through past urbanization (Gonzalez 2005). This collaboration then allow efforts to continue urbanization without further harming the ecological environment that are more successful as a result of the collaboration in comparison to advocacy groups that act alone, isolated from organizations with more resources. In fact, Miami city planners play an important role within the modern conservation effort. Planners are "those of facilitating consensus, supplying vision, educating the public, and serving at times as an advocate and organizer," (Wheeler 2004:52). When City council members have the same interests as the advocacy groups, conservation, smaller advocacy groups can thrive. Research suggests that "Active support and advice from planners can help these advocacy-orientated groundswells of civic attention bear-fruit," (Wheeler 2004:49). Thus, it is a common thread within much of the urban ecological advocacy groups within the Miami-Dade area to work in collaboration with local, regional, and even federal government strategies.

Miami Coastal Cleanup

One local urban advocacy group, the Miami Coastal Cleanup, has executed successful beach cleanups for over twenty years. The group was formed in 1988, by the efforts of the Ocean Conservancy. Typical for Miami advocacy organizations focusing on urban conservation, Miami Coastal Cleanup is organized by a well connected group who founded and developed the program with the support of local government and policy makers. According to group officials, "The mission of the Ocean Conservancy is to educate the public on issues of marine pollution and to use the information collected from the Cleanup to change policy at the state and national level," (Miami-Dade Coastal Cleanup 2010). The Miami Coastal Cleanup itself has seen many successful annual volunteer efforts to clean up the beaches around the Miami-Dade area. The beaches surrounding Brickell Ave, as well as up along the larger coast of South Florida, have all been target areas for the cleanup. Beach debris is one of the most apparent and damaging ecological impact that occurs within urban areas such as the city of Miami. Therefore, this advocacy effort has focused on clean up along with educational campaigns to express the importance of keeping Miami-Dade's beaches clean. Clean beaches mean more fun for both locals and tourists alike. The very first clean up staged by the group saw over ten thousand Floridians cover 915 miles of Florida beaches. During this cleanup effort, an army of volunteers collected 194 tons of debris. However, there are enormous costs associated with staging such large operations. The programs' budget covers vehicle and transportation costs, administration costs, and advertising. Advertising costs can add up, for they have to ensure number of volunteers annually in order to produce real, visible results. As an urban advocacy group, they rely on private donations and the generosity of Miami's residents. These private funds then draw thousands of clean up volunteers to various beaches around Miami annually. However, the local government agencies also offer their support for the beach clean up efforts. The event annually sees thousands of municipal workers to volunteer, along with receiving funding from county sources. The Coast Guard has long been an active part of the clean up, with many Coast Guard men and women volunteering for Coastal Cleanup.

A very similar organization focuses specifically on the Biscayne Bay area is the annual Baynanza. Directly east of the urban sprawl of Brickell Ave, Biscayne Bay has been heavily hit by the incredible urbanization of the city itself. Once a pristine natural wonder, the bustling business brought in by the growth of the Brickell Ave area has placed the Biscayne Bay in jeopardy of extreme pollution. According to organization officials, it is an "annual celebration and cleanup of Biscayne Bay," (U.S. Department of Commerce 2008). Relying on volunteer efforts, the ecological hotspot of Biscayne Bay is thoroughly cleaned each year by devoted residents and volunteers. The organization was established over twenty-five years ago. It aims to protect the integrity and habitat surrounding the bay. The organization itself sponsors not only trash clean ups, but also tree plantings and educational activities. In the rapid expansion of Miami's financial district on Brickell Ave, the organization focuses on implementing successful educational campaigns focusing on the act of recycling as prevention for beach and bay pollution. Like all advocacy groups, it relies on private donation. However, like advocacy groups in Miami, it also receives funding from federal conservation departments, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is a wing of the United States Department of Commerce. NOAA, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, invested a record breaking $200,000 to help clean up the Biscayne Bay here in Miami, which is notorious for its trash -- and that was only for one annual festival. Organization members say that operations would be much more difficult if it were not for the supplemental funding they have received from both local and federal governmental departments.

NOAA's Marine Debris Program

To connect Biscayne Bay even more with a collaborated federal effort to protect the Miami-Dade area, NOAA has a specialized Marine Debris Program that has done immense work within the Miami-Dade area. The NOAA itself is run by the Department of Commerce, and so has amazing access to research and resources. Program officials say it is "dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources," (U.S. Department of Commerce 2008). This is yet another example of a situation where conservation benefits urban ecological advocacy efforts with local government resource strategy. The NOAA Marine Debris Program is a federally run program that "offers funding and technical assistance to encourage local communities to create and run projects that prevent and remove marine debris to benefit coastal habitat, waterways, and NOAA trust resources including local fish," (U.S. Department of Commerce 2008). It helps fund and provide educational resources for conservation of Florida's waterways and beaches. Although not a local agency, the program has focused on Southern Florida, and more specifically the Miami-Dade area, in terms of chosen program funding. The program itself receives millions from the annual federal budget. This money is then given out to smaller advocacy groups in the form of grants. These smaller advocacy groups, like the Miami Coastal Cleanup and Baynanza, then execute the actual work entailed with effective conservation. These grants are available to both program managers and advocacy grantees. The funding used to supply resources for localized advocacy groups is directly associated with larger federal policy. The NOAA program itself is part of the Recovery Act. In addition to providing the necessary funding to execute conservation efforts, NOAA helps provide funding for local grassroots educational campaigns as well. According to research, "But while humans are not… [END OF PREVIEW]

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