May 2021 – Cortada wins National Wetlands Award, celebrates 15 years of Reclamation Project

May 2021 - Cortada wins National Wetlands Award, celebrates 15 years of Reclamation Project


The Environmental Law Institute presented Xavier Cortada a 2021 National Wetlands Award for his 15 years of work creatively engaging fellow Miami-Dade County residents in learning about, conserving and restoring mangrove forests. The National Wetlands Awards are presented annually to individuals who have excelled in wetlands protection, restoration, and education.

ELI’s National Wetlands Award program is supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Natural Resource Conservation Service. Awardees are selected by a widely representative committee composed of 10-15 wetlands experts from around the country, including representatives from each federal supporting agency, members of the conservation and business communities, and representatives from state and local governments.

“The recipients of the National Wetlands Awards are on the forefront of protecting wetland resources in the face of development and climate impacts,” said ELI President Scott Fulton. “Through their dedication and achievements—even in the midst of a pandemic—they inspire wetlands protection across the country and worldwide. After the tumultuous year we’ve experienced, I welcome and celebrate the optimism, energy, and hope these individuals bring forth through their work.”

Learn more about the ELI National Wetlands Award:


Just in time for American Wetlands Month in May, Miami eco-artist, Xavier Cortada, honors the 15-year anniversary of his Reclamation Project with an exhibition at the University of Miami Wynwood Gallery. 

Mangrove seedlings in clear, water-filled cups – like those he first installed in a grid at the project’s launch at The Bass Museum of Art on Earth Day 2006 – are on display, as well as the original mangrove drawings used in his 2004 Downtown metaphorical restoration effort, Miami Mangrove ForestThe Reclamation Project exhibition presents a long-lived ecological art intervention across the state of Florida where, over the last quindecennial, Cortada has engaged scores of Floridians in learning about and addressing the widespread disappearance of wetlands.

Xavier Cortada prepares a Reclamation Project installation in storefront windows along Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, 2006.

The exhibition also showcases subsequent iterations of the Reclamation Project which use the power of art to connect South Floridians with their local environment. These include Native FlagsUnderwater HOAPlan(T)FLOR500, and Flower Force, encouraging locals to restore native habitats as coastal cities like Miami plan for a future with rising seas.

The exhibition will be on view for University of Miami faculty and students by appointment only at the University of Miami Wynwood Gallery until June 11th. To learn more or experience the exhibition virtually, click the button below.

A family participates in Xavier Cortada’s Reclamation Project mangrove reforestation efforts, 2007.


Xavier Cortada, “Mangroves (on Blue),” signed, numbered, limited edition print on paper,
32″ x 24″, 2005. (edition of 100)