Mangroves to receive huge boost from new carbon credit rules

A new method for calculating the role that mangrove restoration plays in slowing climate change, by capturing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, has been adopted.

Mangroves in Can Gio Biosphere Reserve

The methodology is adopted under the UN climate change convention’s Kyoto Protocol, as part of the Clean Development Mechanism that supports emission reduction projects in developing countries. .

This will provide a significant boost to restoration efforts for mangrove forests, which grow in tropical and sub-tropical coastal regions and provide a wide range of biological services such as nurseries for juvenile fish and a source of timber for local populations.

“The fact that this new methodology is now part of the Clean Development Mechanism should allow us to achieve similar results for other types of coastal and marine ecosystems,” says Carl Gustaf Lundin, Director of the IUCN Global Marine and Polar Programme. “Adopting new policies and financing mechanisms for protection and management of our oceans should be at the heart of nature-based solutions to climate change.”

Only recently has the important role of mangroves in trapping carbon from the atmosphere and locking it into sediments begun to be recognised. Many scientists believe that mangroves are far more efficient at trapping carbon than tropical and temperate forests, whose role as climate regulators has been recognised and established longer.

The methodology was developed by IUCN, Ramsar and Sylvestrum for the Clean Development Mechanism and was based on field experiences from a 3-year partnership with Danone. The project was initiated by food and water company Danone and its brand Evian in partnership with IUCN and Ramsar, which implemented large mangrove restoration initiatives together with local communities in Africa and Asia..

“The new methodology will open up opportunities for mangrove restoration on a far greater scale,” enthuses Bernard Giraud, Danone Vice President of Sustainability. “It will have a very significant impact on local communities and will stimulate companies to make corporate-level investment and grasp new carbon offsetting opportunities in coastal regions.”

Mangrove forests are just one of several coastal ecosystems that play an important role in regulating climate and are commonly referred to as “blue carbon” solutions. Others include salt marshes, seagrasses, kelp forests and wetlands.

Many mangroves become degraded through the upstream building of dams, roads and irrigation channels. The methodology also recognises the importance of automatic regeneration of mangroves, which can be achieved through changes to the upstream hydrology or “re-wetting.”

“Destruction of coastal habitats releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and destroys livelihoods,” says Prof Nicholas Davidson, Deputy Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. “Well-planned and implemented restoration and protection of these ecosystems delivers very tangible benefits to local populations in tropical countries, and increases the ecosystems’ capacity to store carbon.”

Note to editors: 

About IUCN

IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. IUCN works on biodiversity, climate change, energy, human livelihoods and greening the world economy by supporting scientific research, managing field projects all over the world, and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice.

About the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

The Ramsar Convention is a global intergovernmental treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. Signed in the Iranian town of Ramsar in 1971 and the first of the modern global environmental treaties, the Convention established the basis for the management and sustainable use of wetlands. To date, it remains the only global environmental agreement devoted to a particular ecosystem. This year, 2011, the Convention celebrates its 40th anniversary.

About Danone, Evian and sustainable development

Danone is present in over 120 countries on five continents. Its mission is to bring health through food to as many people as possible. In 2010 Danone had more than 160 production plants and around 100,000 employees, generating sales of €17 billion, of which half were in emerging markets.
The company is committed to reduce its carbon emissions by 30% between 2008 and 2012. It has also engaged an innovative approach to offset its remaining carbon emissions through the restoration of ecosystems which sequestrate high volumes of carbon while providing significant food resources to the local communities. In partnership with local organisations, 100 million mangrove trees were planted in Senegal and India. Evian has a long experience in protecting water resources and supports specific program to store carbon by restoring wetlands.

About Sylvestrum

Sylvestrum is a small firm with a global network of specialists in the area of climate change mitigation. It assists in the creation of carbon assets in land-use projects for compliance and voluntary markets worldwide. Having pioneered in project development since the mid 1990s, Sylvestrum is specialised in afforestation/reforestation, reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, improved forest management, peatland management and bioenergy, under various standards. (CDM, VCS, CCBA, FSC)


Mitigating Climate Change through Restoration and Management of Coastal Wetlands and Near-shore Marine Ecosystems 

 Capturing and Conserving Natural Coastal Carbon: Building mitigation, advancing adaptation  
The Management of Natural Coastal Carbon Sinks

Useful links:

Clean Development Mechanism
Wetland Carbon Partnership

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