Coastal ecosystems, in particular seagrasses, saltmarshes and mangroves are known as bluecarbon sinks and sequester and store carbon from the atmosphere at rates of up to 5 times those of tropical forests. For Australia, our coastal ecosystems also support many of our inshore fisheries, creating jobs and providing high quality seafood to Australians and more broadly. Since European settlement we have lost large quantities of our coastal ecosystems, which in turn have impacted on fisheries productivity and the sustainability of our fisheries.
The Global BlueCarbon Scientific Group to which our principal investigator is an observer and our co-investigator (Catherine Lovelock) is a member, has been collectively coordinating our scientific understanding of coastal ecosystem carbon and supporting the Global BlueCarbon Policy Group to take the policy framework forward. As part of the global BlueCarbon initiative, TierraMar Consulting in partnership with UNEP/GRID-Arendal has recently commenced two collaborative Blue Carbon projects, one in SouthEast Asia, focused on the CoralTriangle, and the other in the Pacific.
This project provides an opportunity for Australia to take stock of what we know in relation to the role of our coastal ecosystems in carbon sequestration, as compared to terrestrial systems at a bio regional context (temperate and tropical). It will also provide us with the base understanding:
- to recognise and estimate the benefits of going beyond “Business as usual” and the sequestration opportunities inherent in remedial activities.
- estimate the relative contribution of poorly managed and drained wetlands [e.g.: their methane export] and compare these values to other key primary industry sources where activities are underway to reduce emissions – e.g. livestock, manure managements.
This is critical baseline information to allow us to move forward and develop a policy and management framework for coastal ecosystems for Australia to repair and conserve the ecosystem services they provide.