The Trust for Public Land (TPL) approached us to help tell the story of how wetland systems proved critical in protecting Staten Island communities during 2012’s Hurricane Sandy by providing a natural buffer from the rising waters. The story was designed to help TPL appeal to policy makers to acquire more land in Staten Island on which to expand the network of wetlands, in an effort to protect New York City communities from future storms. TPL has already protected more than 1,800 acres of low-lying coastal lands in the New York Harbor region, and continues to work independently and with a variety of partners to implement green infrastructure improvements along vulnerable waterfront areas and campaign for safe waterfront planning.
Our work with TPL was one of Ecodeo’s earliest projects and one that remains close to our heart. It was an honor to work closely with the TPL team and film the stories of residents who were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. We also interviewed many residents badly hit by the storm as well as interviews with top NOAA scientists, wetland ecosystem biologists, and policy makers. After quickly realizing how hard it was to capture the scope of Staten Island’s wetlands from the ground, we flew a camera-equipped drone over its many miles, which provided the necessary scale. We also designed motion graphics to work with satellite resolution-size GIS mapping files in order to arrive at accurate data visualizations of future flooding predictions.
Our film has been screened in university lecture halls and at policy and political meetings, and has been used by the New York City Mayor’s Office and NYC Port Authority officials as a tool for understanding the important role these lands play as storm buffers. Over the past few years, the film has played a key part in helping TPL and its partner organizations protect and restore more waterfront lands and make the case to halt any further development in low-lying coastal areas in the New York Harbor Region.