The potential for Blue Carbon to play a significant role in reducing Australia’s emissions will be the focus of a new research project under the National Environmental Science Programme (NESP).
Blue Carbon – carbon stored in marine and coastal habitats – could play a significant role in reducing emissions, while also supporting biodiversity conservation, fisheries habitat protection, and disaster risk reduction.
The Blue Carbon research project was unveiled at the global climate change talks in Paris today at a roundtable convened by Australia and the International Blue Carbon Initiative.
Research has already demonstrated that coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, seagrass beds and salt marshes can be much more effective than forests at sequestering carbon.
We now need to find out how much Blue Carbon can be stored by these ecosystems and how this can contribute to emissions reductions.
It will also aim to explore how coastal management activities impact on carbon emissions and identify high priority areas for restoration and conservation.
The research will be undertaken by the NESP’s Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub and will be led by the National Centre for Coasts and Climate, based at the University of Melbourne. It will build on previous work, such as the research done by the CSIRO’s Coastal Carbon Cluster.
The Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub is funded with $23.9 million over six years.
In Paris today, the roundtable brought together the many countries and organisations that are working to better understand and manage Blue Carbon. Discussions focussed on opportunities to amplify and expand these efforts.
Australia has significant Blue Carbon resources – possibly the largest in the world. Our coastal wetlands alone have been estimated to be storing in the order of 2.5 billion tonnes of carbon.
Australia hopes to be one of the first countries in the world to include Blue Carbon in our national inventory.
Today’s roundtable was an opportunity to build connections with other countries that are also working towards this.
Australia is also working towards creating incentives for Blue Carbon management through our Emissions Reduction Fund. Today’s workshop highlighted a number of similar initiatives from around the world.
The Blue Carbon Initiative is led by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Conservation International and the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.