Blue carbon is the term used to describe carbon stored in coastal and marine ecosystems. Seagrass meadows, salt marshes and mangroves, sequester significantly more carbon per hectare than forests (both boreal and tropical).
Typically blue carbon offsetting projects are associated with tropical mangrove swamps; this looks set to change with the release of the “Manual for the Creation of Blue Carbon Projects in Europe and the Mediterranean” by the IUCN’s Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation, earlier this year.
Costal ecosystems are increasingly under threat from water pollution, trawling, the building of new coastal infrastructure; and extreme weather events like storms and marine heatwaves. Beyond their carbon capturing potential, these habitats support coastal livelihoods and act as natural sea defences.
It’s wonderful to see so much interest in NBS (nature based solutions), notably forestry projects and tree-planting. But it is time we look beyond trees and start protecting and investing in our seas also, they will prove vital in the fight against climate change.