- Blue carbon is the carbon stored in coastal and marine ecosystems.
- Coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrass meadows sequester and store more carbon per unit area than terrestrial forests and are now being recognised for their role in mitigating climate change.
- These ecosystems also provide essential benefits for climate change adaptation, including coastal protection and food security for many coastal communities.
- However, if the ecosystems are degraded or damaged, their carbon sink capacity is lost or adversely affected, and the carbon stored is released, resulting in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) that contribute to climate change.
- Dedicated conservation efforts can ensure that coastal ecosystems continue to play their role as long-term carbon sinks.
Coastal ecosystems need to be conserved and restored as globally significant carbon sinks. Despite their small extent relative to other ecosystems, they sequester and store globally significant amounts of carbon in their soil. The ongoing destruction and loss of these systems contributes to additional human-induced greenhouse gases. Alongside tropical forests and peatlands, coastal ecosystems demonstrate how nature can be used to enhance climate change mitigation strategies and therefore offer opportunities for countries to achieve their emissions reduction targets and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement.
Additionally, these coastal ecosystems provide numerous benefits and services that are essential for climate change adaptation, including coastal protection and food security for many communities globally.