On Monday March 23, Wetland Resources LLC was announced as the winner of the fifth annual Water Challenge business pitch at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. Their winning pitch focused on planting trees to protect Louisiana’s coastline. The competition sought high-potential entrepreneurial solutions for wetland and marshland restoration, storm protection and rain harvesting.
Wetland Resources has set the ambitious goal of planting one million trees in ten years. Their plan is to plant Bald cypress and Water Tupelo trees in the Central Wetlands in Violet. In addition to being hurricane resistant, these trees also absorb water which reduces the impact of storm surges. The trees are grown in waste water from the city of Hammond and they have a 1000 year lifespan.
The panel of judges awarded Wetland Resources with $10,000 in seed capital to the company’s founders, the husband and wife team of Gary Shaffer and Demetra Kandalepas. The money will go towards the patenting of a cypress “sleeve” that protects against nutria (a large, semiaquatic rodent) and makes seedlings easy to plant.
In addition to the $10,000 prize, Wetland Resources also won a $500 dollar award for being the Audience Favorite.
Ella Delio, director of environmental and regional initiatives at the Greater New Orleans Foundation said that one of the things that was learned through the Water Challenge is that, “it’s going to take all of us — businesses, nonprofits, policymakers and artists — to tackle our water issues innovatively and effectively.”
The Water Challenge initiative is a collaboration between Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation, The Idea Village and the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF) that aims to identify and support entrepreneurial solutions that apply innovative approaches to how we live with water.