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It has a prominent presentation in the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change with picture of mangrove restoration on its front page, which illustrates its importance in recent climate change efforts.
– The role of healthy oceans in binding carbon” noted – is taken up at sea. Between 50-71% of this is captured by the ocean’s vegetated “Blue Carbon” habitats – mangroves, salt marshes, sea-grasses, and seaweed – which cover less than 0.5% of the seabed, but therefore play an important role in the world’s climate and in mitigating change.
The Global Ocean Commission commissioned the study to help inform its inquiry into the role of the high seas in the wider health of the ocean and the relative value of the many services provided. Co-chair of the Commission Trevor Manuel said: “This study makes that which used to be out of sight/out of mind visible and we can now more obviously see and assess what we stand to lose if we do not take measures to protect the high seas and govern them effectively to preserve vital ecosystem…
These rates of carbon sequestration and storage are comparable to and often higher than rates in carbon rich terrestrial ecosystems such as tropical rainforests or peat-lands. Unlike most terrestrial systems, deposition of carbon dioxide in coastal ecosystem sediment can continue over millennia.
As we make our increasingly bold statements about the importance of mangrove biomass — or indeed around any ecosystem services — it is so important that we have the numbers to back up our claims. Until this paper, the best we could in most places was provide a global average number. “A typical mangrove has 152 tonnes of aboveground biomass per hectare,” we might say.
When it comes to soils, we’re still struggling with the models a bit, but the story is equally compelling. Most mangrove forests lay down peat — thick, heavy layers of carbon-rich soil that stays waterlogged and doesn’t rot.
They quantify what some of us in marine conservation have been saying for a decade or more: that mangrove forests are among the most carbon rich habitats on the planet. That, although they occupy just a fraction of the world’s surface, they pack a punch.
My colleagues and I have just worked out how much carbon there is in the world’s mangrove forests, give or take a bit. And we mapped it. And here’s why these findings are tremendously important.
That doesn’t sound at all convincing whether you are standing at the foot of canopy giant in Berau, Indonesia, or indeed on the margins of straggly community of mangrove shrubs in the desert margins of the Middle East.
Mangroves, tidal marshes and sea-grasses are critical along the world’s coasts, supporting coastal water quality, healthy fisheries, and coastal protection against floods and storms.
So if you had a dollar to invest in carbon futures, my strongest advice of all would be to invest in preventing mangrove loss, or even restoration. There’s no magic cure to the challenges of global change – warming, rising seas, worsening storms and ocean acidification – we’ll only ever get there through a combination of interventions. Mangroves aren’t sufficiently widespread to tip the scales, but they give a greater return on investment than many other mitigation efforts.
Mangroves in Berau, Indonesia. These are being rapidly converted to aquaculture ponds. Photo credit: Mark Spalding’ It’s a model, of course, and only captures part of reality, but it’s a huge advance. We need this sort of work — both the hard data from the field scientists and the verifiable models of what’s going on. It means so much more than average numbers. Without it, all our platitudes and pleadings about the value of nature run the risk of sounding hollow.
Thank you from one of the beneficiaries of Worldview’s project in Myanmar. Read more of this text here: https://wvltv.wordpress.com/2015/06/11/thor-heyerdahl-climate-park-promoting-blue-carbon/ ADOPT A MANGROVE http://www.thorheyerdahlclimatepark.org/product/mangrove-tree/
Fifty-five per cent of the atmospheric carbon captured by living organisms – as UNEP’s 2009 report ”Blue Carbon Greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are changing the world’s climate and reducing them, is at the centre of current climate change discussions. However, the critical role of oceans and their ecosystems has been vastly overlooked.
83 % of the global carbon cycle is circulated through the oceans. Coastal habitat contains of the total ocean area, but account for approximately of the total carbon sequestered in ocean sediments.