Carbon sequestration and storage is increasingly recognized as a valuable service provided by coastal vegetation. Carbon sequestered and stored by mangrove forests, tidal marshes, and seagrass meadows is known as blue carbon. These habitats capture and store carbon within plants themselves and in the sediment below them. When the habitats are destroyed, much of their carbon is released back to the atmosphere and ocean contributing to global climate change.
Therefore, blue carbon ecosystem protection is becoming a greater priority in marine management. Consequently, a range of policy and management responses aim to reduce coastal ecosystem loss, including the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs).
This paper explores how MPA design, location, and management could be used to protect and increase carbon sequestration and ensure integrity of carbon storage through conservation. It describes much needed first steps and highlights the potential for blue carbon finance mechanisms to provide sustainable funding for MPAs.
The authors show how the inclusion of blue carbon sequestration goals within formal MPAs may add value to the conservation approach in several ways and the potential of new funding sources for MPA management.
Howard J, McLeod E, Thomas S, Eastwood E, Fox M, Wenzel L, Pidgeon E (2017) The potential to integrate blue carbon into MPA design and management. Aquatic Conserv: Mar Freshw Ecosyst 27:100-115