The potential to integrate blue carbon into MPA design and management

Last modified: 
December 13, 2019 - 8:53pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2017
Date published: 09/2017
Authors: Jennifer Howard, Elizabeth Mcleod, Sebastian Thomas, Erin Eastwood, Matthew Fox, Lauren Wenzel, Emily Pidgeon
Journal title: Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
Volume: 27
Pages: 100 - 115
  1. Oceans and coasts provide a wide array of services to humans, including climate regulation, food security, and livelihoods. Managing them well is vital to human well-being as well as the maintenance of marine biodiversity and ocean-dependent economies.
  2. Carbon sequestration and storage is increasingly recognized as a valuable service provided by coastal vegetation. Carbon sequestered and stored by mangrove forests, tidal marshes, and seagrass meadows is known as ‘blue’ carbon. These habitats capture and store carbon within the plants themselves and in the sediment below them. When the habitats are destroyed, much of their carbon is released back to the atmosphere and ocean contributing to global climate change.
  3. Therefore, blue carbon ecosystem protection is becoming a greater priority in marine management and is an area of interest to scientists, policy makers, coastal communities, and the private sector including those that contribute to ecosystem degradation but also those that are looking to reduce their carbon footprint. A range of policy and management responses aim to reduce coastal ecosystem loss, including the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs).
  4. This paper explores how MPA design, location, and management could be used to protect and increase carbon sequestration and ensure integrity of carbon storage through conservation and restoration activities. While additional research is necessary to validate the proposed recommendations, this paper describes much needed first steps and highlights the potential for blue carbon finance mechanisms to provide sustainable funding for MPAs.
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