Have you heard of the term blue carbon?
Simply put, blue carbon is carbon that’s captured and stored in coastal and marine ecosystems. This is especially important since, in the past 100 years, human activity has released an excess of carbon that causes climate change. Luckily, our coastal ecosystems are incredibly efficient at removing harmful amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and can store it for thousands of years. Blue carbon ecosystems like mangroves, sea grasses, and tidal marshes are among the most efficient carbon sinks on the planet .
Mangroves, in particular, are carbon storing superpowers — their branches, leaves, and complex root system sequester carbon and bury it in their surrounding sediments. They store up to 50 times more carbon than forests on land, including tropical rain forests!
Not only do blue carbon ecosystems, like mangroves, sequester carbon, they also provide critical habitat for an abundance of wildlife and fisheries, and buffer communities against hurricanes, storm surge, and sea level rise .
Mexico has the world’s fourth largest coverage of mangroves representing 5.4% of the world’s total.
But in the last 40 years, Mexico has lost 9% of its mangrove forest cover due to coastal development, industry, pollution, illegal deforestation, and climate change impacts. Mangrove degradation means that stored carbon will be released back into the atmosphere as damaging greenhouse gas.
To conserve the mangroves of Mexico and their critical benefits, WILDCOAST is doing three things:
1) Directly protecting vulnerable mangrove forests;
2) Restoring deforested and degraded forests: and
3) Building conservation capacity among local communities.
Since 2008, WILDCOAST has been working to conserve the vast desert mangrove forests of the Mexican Pacific. In partnership with Mexico’s National Commission of Protected Natural Areas (CONANP), we have protected 8,454 acres of threatened mangrove forest in Bahia Magdalena and the Gulf of California in northwest Mexico. Another 41,289 acres of mangroves concessions are currently pending approval by federal authorities.
In 2019, with support from the United Nations, WILDCOAST launched the restoration of 247 acres of mangrove habitat in Laguna San Ignacio in Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve as part of our One Million Mangroves Initiative. Working with local communities, WILDCOAST helped plant 120,000 seedlings in the lagoon, the world’s last undeveloped California gray whale breeding ground.
In partnership with University of Queensland and Griffith University in Australia, we sampled stored carbon across 41,000 acres of mangrove forests in northwest Mexico, finding that approximately 20 million metric tons of carbon is stored there — equivalent to about one million people’s annual carbon emissions in the United States.
Due to our pioneering mangrove conservation work, we were awarded the 2019 Keeling Curve Prize.
Today, our goal is to plant One Million Mangroves in Mexico so we can continue to make an impact on overall greenhouse gas reduction for the world at large.
And that’s just the beginning, as our blue carbon conservation work is fully scalable as a natural climate change solution.
Our new WILDCOAST mantra: Plant a mangrove. Save the planet.
Reducing the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere is critical for the long-term survival of humans and wildlife.
And besides, who doesn’t want to preserve beautiful places like this:
Stay tuned for Wander with WILDCOAST’s Blue Carbon Part 2, which tells the story of our blue carbon conservation work in California!