Coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrasses play a significant role as carbon sinks in the fight against climate change. They sequester and store large quantities of carbon in both the plants and the sediment below. Mangroves, for example, store three to five times more carbon per area than many terrestrial forests.
Conservation and restoration of coastal ecosystems has the potential to help mitigate climate change while supporting many countries’ adaptation efforts and contributing to their sustainable development goals. Yet, too often they are destroyed to make way for development, or for the exploitation of resources, and are excluded from future planning.
Destruction of these ecosystems results in the release of carbon back into the atmosphere, further fuelling climate change. It is estimated that more than 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide are released annually from degraded coastal ecosystems - more than the emissions of the UK, France and Italy combined.
Resilient to natural hazards, they also contribute to disaster risk reduction, providing coastal protection against floods, storms, tsunamis and sea level rise.
Coastal ecosystems have a critical role to play in helping us mitigate and adapt to climate change, making it all the more urgent that we act now to protect and restore these ecosystems and increase marine protected areas.
And what is blue carbon? It is the carbon stored in coastal and marine ecosystems – taken from the atmosphere and oceans and stored as "blue" carbon.
IUCN is working with many partners and members on sustainable coastal management around the world. Some of the key initiatives that have helped propel international action on blue carbon can be found in the full article here: https://digital.iucn.org/marine/blue-carbon/