Leveraging Carbon Services of Coastal Ecosystems for Habitat Protection and Restoration
Coastal “blue carbon,” (carbon sequestered in salt marsh, mangroves, and seagrasses) is a newly recognized benefit. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with partners, has been exploring and developing new policy opportunities for coastal conservation using the climate benefits of these ecosystems. We detail NOAA's efforts (federal and international, market and non-market) to leverage blue carbon for coastal conservation including: (1) how blue carbon is or could be incorporated into U.S. federal policies (both existing and new policy activities); (2) market-based policy solutions including the development of a Verified Carbon Standard methodology for carbon credits for wetland restoration and two landscape assessments of the climate mitigation benefits of watershed-scale restoration; and (3) international efforts to build a North American community of practice for blue carbon science and policy with the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, Canada, and Mexico, and an assessment of where blue carbon can be incorporated into international policy frameworks (including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Wetlands Supplement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)). Protecting coastal carbon leads to co-benefits including resilience to storms and erosion, and fishery benefits, thus blue carbon is a “triple win” for climate mitigation, adaptation, and conservation.