Together with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), and funded by the Fondation Total, IUCN embarked in 2011 on a new new scientific research project to further explore the role of seagrass beds a nature-based solution for climate change mitigation. Seagrass beds have been identified, alongside mangroves and saltmarshes, as efficient coastal “blue carbon” sinks, and potential carbon sources if lost or degraded.

The project came to a close and had as objective to generate new scientific data and analysis on carbon dynamics in seagrass ecosystems. While highly efficient in sequestering carbon, the actual amount of carbon stored in seagrass meadows is still unknown for several regions. This project provided new data for a data poor region, namely Southeast Asia. This project is the first of its kind in Thailand, and possibly one of only 3 in Southeast Asia and includes the Philippines and Indonesia. The project examined existing stores of carbon in the sediments of pristine and degraded seagrass meadows and determined how vulnerable these stores are to losses resulting from changes to the density and health of seagrass meadows.

New data like the one provided through this project will further help to develop the appropriate carbon related finance and policy mechanisms. Opportunities to incentivize nature-based mitigation activities in seagreass areas through the voluntary carbon market or appropriate mechanisms of the United Nations Framework Convention (UNFCCC) exists, but still need to be put in practice.

This project also directly contributed to enhancing capacity of professionals in developing countries and has been implemented in close collaboration with the Blue Carbon Initiative.

Seagrass beds are flowering plants that form extensive, globally distributed meadows with large amounts of underground carbon in their sediment. The current global rate of seagrass loss is several times higher than the loss of forests on land.