WANDER WITH WILDCOAST: Blue Carbon – California

California is home to one of the world’s most beautiful and iconic coastlines with its ribbons of golden sand, dramatic seaside cliffs, teeming tidepools, marine wilderness, and shoreline wetlands. Within these swaths of green and blue are myriad ecosystems from sand dunes, rolling grasslands, and scrubs to seagrass meadows, saltwater tidal marshes, and bird-filled estuaries.

     

Our California coasts are especially important for everyone to access, enjoy, explore, and recreate.

These coastal and marine ecosystems also sustain unique plants and wildlife.

They provide habitats and nursery grounds for native birds and marine species, and migratory stopovers for our winged avian friends on the Pacific Flyway.

They also serve as critical buffers, protecting coastal communities during storms and floods.

And improve water quality as their vegetation acts as a natural filtration system by trapping nutrients and contaminants.

But did you know they also store blue carbon? Blue carbon is carbon that is captured and stored in coastal and marine habitats.

Research shows that blue carbon ecosystems, such as sea grasses…

and salt marshes…

are more efficient at capturing and storing atmospheric carbon than most terrestrial forests. In fact, some blue carbon ecosystems can sequester five times more carbon than tropical rainforests and store 50 times more in their surrounding soil. They can store this carbon for thousands of years.

Sadly, California has lost over 90% of its historical wetlands.

Human development and encroachment, land-based pollution, agriculture runoff, ocean acidification, and sea level rise present imminent threats to delicate blue carbon ecosystems. Their degradation and disruption can actually lead to the release of carbon back into the atmosphere, further exacerbating climate change.

That’s why WILDCOAST is partnering with the State of California, the Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation, the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy, and the Center of Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography to restore more than 40 acres of wetlands and surrounding habitat in San Diego County and sample blue carbon across the region.

Together, we are removing invasive vegetation and planting native species to revitalize these wetlands, allowing blue carbon ecosystems to thrive and adapt to climate change impacts such as sea level rise.

Our wetland restoration project will also provide much needed jobs and stewardship opportunities for young people by partnering with the California Conservation Corp and Urban Corp.

It is our hope that this restoration work, a natural climate solution, will lead to many more projects on the California coastline to preserve and enhance our critical blue carbon ecosystems.

How can you get involved? Volunteer for one of WILDCOAST’s restoration projects when we are back in the field and make a donation so we can continue to save our California coastal wetlands!

To see WILDCOAST’s conservation in action, please check out our new Batiquitos Lagoon Restoration Project film.

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