Can ‘blue carbon’ make offsetting work?
2021-11-04 9:22 by AS
Off the Caribbean coast of Colombia, rare manatee calves have been spotted in the canals and rivers of Cispatá Bay’s mangrove forests. The once-critically endangered American crocodile is now seen more frequently. Birds and lizards nest in the branches, fish and shrimps use the roots as nurseries. These 11,000 protected hectares (27,000 acres) of mangroves are a biodiversity hotspot. But the Cispatá conservation project, a collaboration between Colombia’s Marine and Coastal Research Institute (Invemar), Conservation International (CI) and Apple, is not just of interest to birdwatchers and ecologists. It has attracted the attention of marine scientists, researchers and corporations, as it is among the first to measure and sell a new type of credit to fund conservation: “blue carbon”.Mangroves, like other coastal wetlands, are powerful carbon sinks. That is, they suck up carbon dioxide from the air to store in their roots and branches, as well as the sediment that collects around them. They do this so well that they can store up to 10 times more carbon than forests. And unlike “green carbon” rainforests, which store carbon in biomass, and therefore release it when the trees die, mangroves store most of the carbon in their soil and sediment. If undisturbed, it stays there for millennia.
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