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What is
Blue Carbon?

‘We are dreaming of a world where Blue Carbon Ecosystems are thriving and poverty diminishes to zero, food self-sufficiency increases, and decent work and economic sustainable growth become a given to the people and the region they are inhabiting.’

Blue Carbon ecosystems with blue carbon sinks are found on every continent except Antartica. These Blue Carbon Ecosystems (BCE’s) cover mangroves, salt/tidal marshes and seagrass. Protecting key carbon-absorbing areas of the ocean are critical for tackling climate change.

How carbon sequestration works in Blue Carbon Eco-systems:

Source: photo credit Conservation International 2017

The Blue Carbon ecosystems are gaining international recognition as a natural climate solution to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation targets.

‘Healthy coastal habitat is not only important for seafood and recreation, it also plays an important role in reducing climate change. Salt marshes, mangroves, and seagrass beds absorb large quantities of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it, thus decreasing the effects of global warming. These types of habitat are known as carbon sinks and contain large stores of carbon accumulated over hundreds to thousands of years. Using more scientific lingo, coastal blue carbon is the carbon captured by living coastal and marine organisms and stored in coastal ecosystems. Salt marshes, mangroves, and seagrass beds play two important roles:

  •  – Carbon sequestration — the process of capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, measured as a rate of carbon uptake per year.

  •  – Carbon storage — the long-term confinement of carbon in plant materials or sediment, measured as a total weight of carbon stored.

Current studies suggest that:

  •  – Mangroves and coastal wetlands annually sequester carbon at a rate ten times greater than mature tropical forests. They also store three to five times more carbon per equivalent area than tropical forests.
  •  – Seagrass ecosystems play an increasingly recognised role in supporting biological productivity, carbon sequestration, ocean biodiversity and fishery resources. Seagrasses trap and permanently store massive amounts of carbon in the sediment, contributing an estimated 17% of the total organic carbon annually buried in marine sediments. (source: Beneath The Waves)
  •  – Most coastal blue carbon is stored in the soil, not in above-ground plant materials as with tropical forests.

Coastal habitats are important for capturing carbon—but their destruction poses a great risk. When these habitats are damaged or destroyed, it is not only their carbon sequestration capacity that is lost. Carbon stored in the habitats can also be released, contributing to increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, coastal habitats around the world are being lost at a rapid rate, largely due to coastal development for housing, ports, and commercial facilities.’- Source: ‘National Ocean Service’

Next to Carbon Sequestration, Blue Carbon Ecosystems have the following important proved effects:

– Improved Biodiversity
– Improved Water Quality
– Provide Coastal Defense: storms and beach erosion
– Economic Value: tourism and fishing
– Social and Cultural Value

Because of these very important effects to fight climate change the Blue Carbon Ecosystems need to be sustained, restored and/or regenerated.
But how?
Read more about this on the next pages: