Blue Carbon

Coastal wetlands—mangroves, seagrasses and tidal marshes—line vast stretches of the world’s coastlines. These valuable ecosystems draw in carbon as they grow, much of which is later transferred into the rich organic soils held by their roots. The carbon can remain in the soil for thousands of years, making it one of the longest-term natural solutions to climate change

Yet scientists calculate that about 50% of the world’s mangroves and seagrasses, and at least 25% of the world’s tidal marshes, have been lost. It is urgent and essential that we protect and restore our planet’s “blue carbon” systems for the security of our climate.

By protecting and restoring the world’s wetlands we can address climate change while also protecting healthy lands and waters, and improving communities and economies. Through scientific research, site-based demonstrations and policy reform, The Nature Conservancy is demonstrating the opportunity and value coastal wetlands can provide as a natural climate solution.

Leveraging our experience and partnerships, our blue carbon program has three main pillars:

  1. Build a scientific foundation for conservation, policy and investment to provide more evidence to bolster conservation and communicate the economic and social value of wetlands to policy-makers. 
  2. Implement replicable demonstration sites for wetlands conservation and restoration where there is opportunity and a high likelihood of success, along with the aim of scaling to additional countries or multi-country work as appropriate. 
  3. Leverage policy and financial mechanisms for action at a global scale by changing the way people think about and value wetlands. Coastal wetlands restoration and conservation are, and will be, important opportunities to mitigate carbon emissions through policy changes. Opportunities identified include:
  • A portfolio of work in both the government and the private sector arenas, drawing on our field projects and scientific and economic analyses, to inform national, regional and international frameworks and private sector funding opportunities and policies.
  • We will integrate best practices for reporting coastal wetlands climate mitigation potential and loss into international agreements, as well as implementing national commitments to preserve and enhance coastal wetlands systems for climate benefits.

Find out more

  • Read our paper that quantifies the above ground biomass of mangroves, highlighting the impressive amounts of carbon stored in the mangrove trees.
  • Read about innovative ways to fund blue carbon projects.  
  • Read about how coastal countries have an opportunity to take their blue carbon ecosystems into account when considering their national level climate actions.

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