What is blue carbon

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Tuesday 19th October 2021

As a child, the oceans and the sea mustered up images of multi-coloured parasols, ice cream carts, seashell necklaces and sandcastles. Today, we can appreciate it for all its nostalgic memories together with much, much more. When talking about climate change, planting trees and preventing deforestation are some of the most talked about solutions; often the importance of oceans and marine ecosystems are put to one side. Our partnership with MCS (The Marine Conservation Society) has opened our eyes to the potential that the deep blue holds in our fight against the climate crisis, the importance of ‘blue carbon’ and the grounding relationship that we share with our oceans that needs nurturing.

‘Blue Carbon’ is a term I’d never heard of, but the idea is fairly simple and un-intimidating, unlike many climate change ideas to a non-scientist like me. Simply put, just like trees and plants on land absorb carbon, blue carbon is the underwater equivalent, where carbon is stored in marine ecosystems and wildlife. Marine and coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, saltmarshes and seagrass have the capacity to store more carbon per unit area than terrestrial forests and their potential to make a significant impact has only recently been recognised. Blue carbon not only makes bold strides towards healing our planet, but also protects coastal communities from the impact of climate change and creates jobs and income for the locals.

As “the voice of the ocean” for over 30 years, MCS places an emphasis on re-wilding these areas and creating healthier seas in order to increase our capacity to store carbon. With their holistic approach to conservation, they organise community-based activities that let nature take the lead and help to nourish the mutual relationship that humans hold with the sea: as we heal the sea, the sea heals us. Their Blue Heart Project spotlights different individuals’ personal relationship with the ocean and what it means to them. Whether that be a symbol of freedom, fullness or a place for meditation. The data from these activities, along with underwater surveys, is then used to highlight the threat that our beaches are under and influence policy and law to promote better environmental regulations in the UK.

The Marine Conservation Society, together with Rewilding Britain are calling upon the UK government to adopt, and invest in, a four nation Blue Carbon Strategy, treating blue carbon on a level playing field as re-wilding woodlands and forests. Implementing these ocean-based solutions at nature’s scale and pace could reduce carbon emissions of 1.83 billion tonnes, approximately 5% of the savings that we need to make globally.

Visit https://www.mcsuk.org/ to see more of the wonderful things that MCS are doing and how you can support them in their mission to make our oceans healthier.

Ocean ecosystems

Sureyya Munir

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