Coastal Blue Carbon: Mangroves

In broad terms, “blue carbon” refers to carbon stored, sequestered and cycled through coastal and ocean ecosystems, mainly mangroves, tidal salt marshes, and seagrass meadows. When protected or restored, coastal blue carbon ecosystems act as carbon sinks. When degraded or destroyed, they emit the carbon they have stored into the oceans and atmosphere and become sources of greenhouse gases.

Mangroves are among the oldest and most productive wetland forests on our planet. Found in the intertidal zone, they are uniquely adapted to survive highly saline and anoxic conditions. They are ideal habitats for many terrestrial and marine species, carbon sinks and natural barriers against storm surges and coastal erosion. Mangroves provide invaluable services but have been declining worldwide as a result of anthropogenic and other threats.

It is important to note that the ecosystem services provided by mangroves is not limited to carbon storage and sequestration. They also support improved coastal water quality, provide habitats for a great variety of fish species, and protect coasts against floods and storms. Recent estimates revealed that mangroves are worth at least US$ 1.6 billion each year in ecosystem services.

The following movie, Guardians of our Coast, describes these processes, and includes some extraordinary photography. It showcases the fascinating web of life that surrounds these tidal forests. The movie highlights the unique collaboration between governments, regional and local institutions, NGOs and local communities, in efforts to save these vulnerable ecosystems and restore them to their former glory. Highly recommended.

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