Restoration ecologist and landscape designer Nichole Perna discusses the best native landscape plants and practices for coastal communities. She covers which native wildflowers, groundcovers, shrubs and trees will fare the best in Florida’s tough coastal environments, and will also highlight sustainable landscape practices to limit erosion, stormwater runoff and chemical use.
Nichole Perna grew up on a small barrier island in Brigantine, New Jersey where she became active in local environmental efforts. She attended Stockton University where she researched Diamondback terrapins and rehabbed seals, dolphins and sea turtles. After graduation, she moved to Florida and began working with Brevard County’s Environmentally Endangered Lands Program (EEL), where she is now a Land Management Specialist. She has spent over a decade restoring coastal habitats and monitoring threatened and endangered species. During this time, she earned a master’s degree in ecological restoration from the University of Florida. She also assists in managing the Barrier Island Center in the heart of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge. After the massive fish kills of 2016, Nichole and her husband Erik were prompted to do more to help the Indian River Lagoon. They started Go Native Landscaping to help friends, neighbors and their local community create beautiful, biodiverse landscapes.