02 November 2011

Blue Carbon: mangroves, seagrasses and other marine life

The oceans are the largest active carbon sink on Earth, absorbing 26% of all carbon dioxide emissions. Five United Nations agencies are working on 'Blue Carbon' as a new form of tradable carbon market.
Seagrasses, rocky shores, coastal forest at Sentosa
Coastal forest, seagrasses and other marine life
on Sentosa's natural shore.
The ocean's "biological pump" removes carbon dioxide, changing it into living matter and distributing it to the deeper water layers. Out of all the biological carbon captured in the world, 55% is taken up at sea by marine living organisms, and thus called 'blue carbon'. At least half of this is captured by the ocean's vegetated habitats - mangroves, salt marshes, seagrasses, and seaweed. These cover less than 0.5% of the seabed, but play an important role in regulating the climate and mitigating climate change.

Five United Nations agencies say they will work to create global acceptance of ocean and coastal habitats as a new form of tradable carbon market with a "global blue carbon fund." They warn that although the oceans account for 70% of the planet's surface, only 1% of that area is protected. 60% of the world's major marine ecosystems have been degraded or are being used unsustainably, resulting in huge economic and social losses. Mangrove forests have lost 30-50% of their original cover in the last 50 years while coral reefs have lost 20%, increasing the vulnerability of many highly populated coastal areas.

To achieve the Fund, there must be agreed standards for blue carbon monitoring and certification, targets set for habitat protection, and methods to determine the economic value of blue forest ecosystem services.

They aim to ensure oceans and coastal ecosystems are not neglected at the upcoming Rio+20 conference scheduled for June 2012.

The five UN agencies that authored The Blueprint for Ocean and Coastal Sustainability are UNESCO, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, the United Nations Development Programme, the International Maritime Organization, and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Full media articles on wildsingapore news.

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