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Which Management Action Produces the GREATEST Gains in Blue Carbon Sequestration?

How to estimate the value of different coastal management scenarios for blue carbon sequestration? And which action produces the greatest gain? A new paper just published in Science of The Total Environment will answer these questions. The paper is entitled: "Estimating blue carbon sequestration under coastal management scenarios".

Conceptual diagram presenting scenarios as individual scenes of coastal land use and blue carbon ecosystems. Downward green arrows represent carbon sequestration. Upward green arrows represent carbon emissions. Not to scale. (From Moritsch et al., 2021).

Restoring and protecting “blue carbon” ecosystems - mangrove forests, tidal marshes, and sea grass meadows - are actions considered for increasing global carbon sequestration. To improve understanding of which management actions produce the greatest gains in sequestration, they used a spatially explicit model to compare carbon sequestration and its economic value over a broad spatial scale (2500 km of coastline in southeastern Australia) for four management scenarios:

  1. Managed Retreat;

  2. Managed Retreat Plus Levee Removal;

  3. Erosion of High Risk Areas;

  4. Erosion of Moderate to High Risk Areas.

They found that:

  • Erosion of soils in blue carbon ecosystems is a large carbon emissions threat.

  • Managed retreat sequestered 7 to 17 million Mg CO2 more than no-action alternative.

  • Levee removal had similar sequestration compared to managed retreat but began sooner.

  • Protecting and restoring blue carbon ecosystems can help reduce carbon emissions.

This study quantifies the potential benefits of managed retreat and preventing erosion in existing blue carbon ecosystems to help meet climate change mitigation goals by reducing carbon emissions. These results can directly be applied to prioritize areas for restoration and conservation and provide estimates of potential economic benefits from the presence and planning for blue carbon ecosystems.

This research was conducted in collaboration with the University of California Santa Cruz (USA), The University of Queensland (Australia) and the University of Oxford (UK).

This work is part of The Nature Conservancy's Great Southern Seascapes program and are supported by The Thomas Foundation, HSBC Australia, the Ian Potter Foundation, and Victorian and New South Wales governments including Parks Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and New South Wales Department of Primary Industries. Funding was also provided by an Australian Research Council Linkage Project (LP160100242). The works were supported by the Victorian Coastal Monitoring Program funded by the Sustainability Accord. Additional data collection support and funding was provided by the Victorian coastal Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs): Glenelg Hopkins CMA, Corangamite CMA, Port Phillip Westernport CMA, West Gippsland CMA, and East Gippsland CMA. This work was conducted on the lands and waters of the Gunditjmara, Eastern Maar, Wadawurrung, Bunurong, and Gunaikurnai People, as well as other Traditional Owners.

The publication was led by the DU Marine Mapping Group Member Monica M. Moritsch (Now at the U.S. Geological Survey, Western Geographic Science Center, California, USA), and group members Mary Young, Paul Carnell and Daniel Ierodiaconou also contributed to the publication.

Congrats to Monica and the DU Marine Mapping Group!

To read the full article, click here.

Last edited on the March 17th, 2021.


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