Mangroves and blue carbon

What is blue carbon? “Blue carbon” is carbon that is stored in marine ecosystems (as distinct from green carbon, which is stored in terrestrial forests).

There are 3 marine ecosystems that store carbon: seagrass meadows, salt marshes and mangrove forests.

It is a well-known fact that human activity is releasing more and more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It is also known that this gas is responsible for the accelerating warming of the Earth’s temperature. This is called „global warming”.

What is much less known is that the oceans and coastal ecosystems are naturally reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thus reducing the greenhouse effect.

Seagrass meadows, mangrove forests and salt marshes ‘bind and hold’ carbon and act as carbon sinks. These coastal systems, although much smaller than the planet’s forests, sequester carbon much faster and store it for thousands of years. Although these areas cover only 0.05% of the ocean surface, they contain 70% of the carbon sequestered by the seas. Mangroves store carbon not only in their leaves, stems or roots, in the same way as terrestrial forests do. Most of the carbon taken up by these ecosystems is stored in sediments, underground. This carbon can be removed from the carbon cycle for thousands of years! These coastal forests are therefore of great importance.

When these systems are damaged – for example by the destruction of mangrove forests – huge amounts of carbon are released back into the atmosphere, which then contributes to accelerating global warming. Protecting and restoring these coastal habitats is therefore one of the best and most effective ways to reduce climate change. In addition, they provide many benefits for people. Mangrove forests protect coastal communities from the huge waves caused by storms.  They are also home and feeding grounds for a large number of marine organisms and provide a source of food for many people from the fish and other marine life that live there.