Coastal marine ecosystems, such as seagrass, beds account for roughly 70% of organic carbon uptake from the marine environment, making them Blue Carbon sink hotspots. Seagrass habitats are reported to sequester organic carbon at a rate that is 35 times faster than that of tropical rainforests.
Seagrass are a diverse group of flowering plants that have adapted to grow and reproduce whilst submerged in seawater, typically in shallow marine waters down to a depth where approximately 11% of surface light reaches the bottom. Seagrasses cover only 0.1-0.2% of the coastal waters, yet they play a significant role in the coastal zone by supplying a variety of critical ecosystem products and services.
Seagrass leaves also reduce hydrodynamic stress by attenuating currents and waves, improve light conditions by trapping suspended sediment and nutrients, and increase pH by absorbing CO2 creating a favorable habitat for organisms, greatly improving biodiversity. The carbon sequestration rate of seagrass meadows is estimated to be 83,000kg per square kilometer per year.
Seagrasses inhabit coastal environments and are therefore subjected to numerous anthropogenic activities such as sewage disposal, mariculture, propeller boating activities, destructive fishing, construction works and dredging, threatening their extinction. Disturbed or dead seagrass can release buried sedimentary carbon and other greenhouse gasses such as methane and nitrous oxide.
The First WIF Seagrass Project
WIF are currently undertaking significant research to explore methods for seagrass conservation. Our specialists are investigating methodologies for verifying carbon sequestration rates of seagrasses to enable certification of carbon credits. Meanwhile, a WIF project encompassing 4,000 hectares of seagrass conservation will be started in 2023. Innovative techniques such as under-water drone monitoring were introduced during the preparation process in collaboration with marine science university students.
This seagrass project is in the marine areas outside WIF’s first mangrove restoration project. This will protect endangered species, with emphasis on a colony of about 20 endangered dugongs and a colony of 400 sea turtles. As well as ensuring its carbon sequestration, the protected sea environment will serve the same purpose for marine life as the newly planted mangrove forest; providing shelter to endangered wild species and helping protect biodiversity.
WIF welcomes cooperation to build the conservation methodology necessary to achieve verification for this natural solution, please get in touch by clicking this link.