Blue Carbon is the carbon captured by the world’s coastal ocean ecosystems, mostly mangroves, salt marshes, seagrasses and potentially macroalgae.

Research on the role of vegetated coastal ecosystems has highlighted their potential as highly efficient carbon sinks and led to the scientific recognition of the term “Blue Carbon“, designating carbon that is fixed via coastal ocean ecosystems, rather than traditional land ecosystems, like forests.

A Blue Carbon REDD+ Project represents a  countries’ efforts to achieve Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, and foster conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (+).

Although the ocean’s vegetated habitats cover less than 0.5% of the seabed, they are responsible for more than 50%, and potentially up to 70%, of all carbon storage in ocean sediments. Mangroves, Salt marshes and seagrasses make up the majority of the ocean’s vegetated habitats but only equal 0.05% of the plant biomass on land. Despite their small footprint, they can store a comparable amount of carbon per year and are highly efficient carbon sinks. Seagrasses, mangroves and salt marshes can capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere by sequestering the C in their underlying sediments, in underground and below-ground biomass, and in dead biomass.

Blue Carbon is simply the term for carbon captured by the world’s ocean and coastal ecosystems. The bigger picture of Blue Carbon is one of coastal habitat conservation. When these systems are damaged, an enormous amount of carbon is emitted back into the atmosphere, where it can then contribute to climate change. So protecting and restoring coastal habitats is a good way to reduce climate change. 

Restoration of mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, marshes, and kelp forests has been implemented in many countries and these restored ecosystems begin to once again act carbon sinks. Restored seagrass meadows were found to start sequestering carbon in sediment within about four years. This was the time needed for the meadow to reach sufficient shoot density to cause sediment deposition

Further Reading