02.04.2013 - Natural Sciences Sector

Mitigating climate change through coastal ecosystem management

© Fackler/NOAA National Marine SanctuariesKelp forest, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (USA)

Some marine ecosystems, such as mangroves, salt marshes and seagrass meadows, beyond having high biodiversity values and providing breeding grounds and nurseries for fisheries, can also play a key role in mitigating global climate change through their ability to store carbon.

Curbing climate change means both removing carbon from the atmosphere and oceans and avoiding new carbon emissions. Total carbon deposits per square kilometer in these coastal systems may be up to five times the carbon stored in tropical forests, due to their ability to absorb, or sequester, carbon at rates up to 50 times those of the same area of tropical forest. However, these Blue Carbon ecosystems are being degraded and destroyed at a rapid pace. Major threats to these ecosystems include pollution, unsustainable coastal development and aquaculture. When these ecosystems are destroyed, their capacity to sequester carbon is lost and the stored carbon is released into the ocean and atmosphere, contributing to global climate change.

Through the International Blue Carbon Initiative, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO) has joined forces with Conservation International (CI) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to mitigate climate change through the restoration and sustainable use of coastal and marine ecosystems. The Initiative currently focuses on mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrasses. The Blue Carbon Initiative brings together governments, research institutions, non-governmental organizations and communities from around the world.

The International Blue Carbon Initiative is pleased to announce the launch of its new website on 2 April 2013.  This new website will foster greater collaboration and coordination within the global blue carbon community. Through this online platform, the Initiative provides up-to-date information on its Scientific and Policy Working Groups, a general overview of blue carbon science and policy, as well as a compilation of existing field projects led by myriad partners around the world.




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