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  • Drivers of CO2 along a mangrove-seagrass transect in a tropical bay: Delayed groundwater seepage and seagrass uptake

Drivers of CO2 along a mangrove-seagrass transect in a tropical bay: Delayed groundwater seepage and seagrass uptake

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Water-to-air carbon dioxide fluxes from tropical coastal waters are an important but understudied component of the marine carbon budget. Here, we investigate drivers of carbon dioxide partial pressure (pCO2) in a relatively pristine mangrove-seagrass embayment on a tropical island (Bali, Indonesia). Observations were performed over eight underway seasonal surveys and a fixed location time series for 55 h. There was a large spatial variability of pCO2 across the continuum of mangrove forests, seagrass meadows and the coastal ocean. Overall, the embayment waters surrounded by mangroves released CO2 to the atmosphere with a net flux rate of 18.1 ± 5.8 mmol m-2 d-1. Seagrass beds produced an overall CO2 net flux rate of 2.5 ± 3.4 mmol m-2 d-1, although 2 out of 8 surveys revealed a sink of CO2 in the seagrass area. The mouth of the bay where coral calcification occurs was a minor source of CO2 (0.3 ± 0.4 mmol m-2 d-1). The overall average CO2 flux to the atmosphere along the transect was 9.8 ± 6.0 mmol m-2 d-1, or 3.6 × 103 mol d-1 CO2 when upscaled to the entire embayment area. There were no clear seasonal patterns in contrast to better studied temperate systems. pCO2 significantly correlated with antecedent rainfall and the natural groundwater tracer radon (222Rn) during each survey. We suggest that the CO2 source in the mangrove dominated upper bay was associated with delayed groundwater inputs, and a shifting CO2 source-sink in the lower bay was driven by the uptake of CO2 by seagrass and mixing with oceanic waters. This differs from modified landscapes where potential uptake of CO2 is weakened due to the degradation of seagrass beds, or emissions are increased due to drainage of coastal wetlands.

View publication here: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.csr.2018.10.008

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  • Sharing the risk of blue carbon investment in 'era of SDGs'

Sharing the risk of blue carbon investment in ‘era of SDGs’

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

The public and private sectors must join forces to finance blue carbon, in order to reap social, environmental and economic returns from the ecosystems. 

The Blue Carbon Summit on July 16-17 in Jakarta, Indonesia, clarified the importance of learning and disseminating more about coastal ecosystems. During the event, one of the discussion forums honed in on these at-risk ecosystems, looking in particular at the payment mechanisms needed to keep blue carbon intact.

Financing blue carbon development addressed how to best use the available funding; no matter what kind of payments are on offer, the discussion explored why blue carbon should be accounted for among stakeholders.

Medrilzam, Director for Environmental Affairs at Indonesia’s National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), highlighted the importance of incorporating blue carbon into efforts to achieve to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), describing the current environment as “the era of SDGs”.

Watch: Financing blue carbon development

SDG 13 on climate action, he said, was the anchor for several other goals, including sustainable cities and communities; life below water; and life on land. Bappenas had never before included blue carbon as an aspect of discussions at national or regional levels, he explained, but is now factoring it in when measuring emission reductions, as Indonesia moves towards its targets of cutting greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) 26% by 2020 and 29% by 2030.

In particular, he highlighted Bappenas’ low carbon development plan, a new development platform aimed at sustaining economic and social growth through low GHG emissions and minimizing the exploitation of natural resources. However, he stressed the need to consider interlinkages, saying that blue carbon related to the economy or the population, and vice versa.

“We cannot just rely on government financing. We know we have limited capacity,” he said, adding that development agencies needed to be imaginative about dealing with emerging forms of innovative finance.

Felia Salim, from the Board of Directors at &Green Fund and Sail Ventures, explained that &Green Fund related to land use, but its model could be replicated for blue carbon by looking at the concept of blended finance.

Mangroves grow along the water’s edge in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

“We need to understand, when we talk about finance, that this is really about linking it to the market,” she said. “We are trying to correct the market forces.”

In terms of blended finance, Salim suggested that the conventional financial sector may not yet fully understand how to mitigate risks related to blue carbon, and therefore has a low appetite for them. Thus, it is all about “absorbing some of the risks that cannot be absorbed by the conventional financial sector.”

“This is the blended part. It’s really sharing the risk,” she said. “Basically the public fund is taking up a portion of the risk — that’s the basic principle of blended finance.”

According to Salim, climate risk and strategy must be incorporated into planning, and such strategies should not only account for economic return, but also environmental returns such as the number of hectares of forest that have been conserved, and social inclusion factors such as jobs created or improvements for smallholder suppliers.

“If you don’t involve stakeholders in the area, it won’t be sustainable,” she stressed, adding that companies which had seriously implemented environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk into their strategies have shown to be performing better as a result.

“The social and environmental returns make economic sense,” she said, “because what you want is […] business that is sustainable, that lasts,” reiterating that &Green Fund is trying to finance a gap that the conventional financial sector cannot absorb.

Read also: Failure to manage blue carbon ecosystems could break the internet 

Mangroves and sandbanks protect the shore in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

Ecotourism is another route to preserving nature while also providing incomes, as outlined by Bustar Maitar, Director of Kurabesi Nusantara Indonesia, a social enterprise offering liveaboard diving tours in eastern Indonesia.

Despite hundreds of comparable boats operating in the archipelago, Maitar said only 12 were Indonesian owned, representing a big growth opportunity for Indonesian investment.

Continuing the investment conversation, Fitrian Adriansyah, chairman of the executive board of IDH (Sustainable Trade Initiative) Indonesia, discussed how IDH invests in collaboration with the private sector.

“We believe sustainable production and trade can transform markets for the benefit of people and the planet,” he said. There is a need to promote greater understanding between the public and private sectors, he added, which “cannot be done if we cannot bridge the gap in terms of understanding the risk when it comes to investment in blue carbon.”

IDH, which invests in commodities, including aquaculture and mangroves, purports to seek impact rather than financial return. Responding to concerns that aquaculture is seen as an “enemy” of blue carbon efforts, Adriansyah said IDH’s criteria in selecting investment opportunities comprised improved productivity; protecting remaining forests; and the inclusion of villagers, smallholders or the community.

Finally, Muhammad Senang Semibiring, a Senior Advisor to the Indonesian Biodiversity Foundation (KEHATI), outlined private financing through a community-based coastal carbon corridor initiative. KEHATI, the first and largest biodiversity conservation trust fund in Indonesia, was begun 25 years ago and makes use of public-private partnerships toward the achievement of SDG 17.

By investing in natural solutions, many elements of coastal areas can be protected. There can be economic benefits in doing so, including for the lives of community members. In identifying the challenges facing the financing of blue carbon initiatives, stakeholders can assess these returns and – as evidenced by the discussions at the Blue Carbon Summit – achieve social and economic benefits as well as environmental advantages.

Read also: Seagrass meadows: Underutilized and over-damaged carbon sinks

By Hannah Maddison-Harris, FTA Communications and Editorial Coordinator. 

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  • Sharing the risk of blue carbon investment in 'era of SDGs'

Sharing the risk of blue carbon investment in ‘era of SDGs’

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

The public and private sectors must join forces to finance blue carbon, in order to reap social, environmental and economic returns from the ecosystems. 

The Blue Carbon Summit on July 16-17 in Jakarta, Indonesia, clarified the importance of learning and disseminating more about coastal ecosystems. During the event, one of the discussion forums honed in on these at-risk ecosystems, looking in particular at the payment mechanisms needed to keep blue carbon intact.

Financing blue carbon development addressed how to best use the available funding; no matter what kind of payments are on offer, the discussion explored why blue carbon should be accounted for among stakeholders.

Medrilzam, Director for Environmental Affairs at Indonesia’s National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), highlighted the importance of incorporating blue carbon into efforts to achieve to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), describing the current environment as “the era of SDGs”.

Watch: Financing blue carbon development

SDG 13 on climate action, he said, was the anchor for several other goals, including sustainable cities and communities; life below water; and life on land. Bappenas had never before included blue carbon as an aspect of discussions at national or regional levels, he explained, but is now factoring it in when measuring emission reductions, as Indonesia moves towards its targets of cutting greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) 26% by 2020 and 29% by 2030.

In particular, he highlighted Bappenas’ low carbon development plan, a new development platform aimed at sustaining economic and social growth through low GHG emissions and minimizing the exploitation of natural resources. However, he stressed the need to consider interlinkages, saying that blue carbon related to the economy or the population, and vice versa.

“We cannot just rely on government financing. We know we have limited capacity,” he said, adding that development agencies needed to be imaginative about dealing with emerging forms of innovative finance.

Felia Salim, from the Board of Directors at &Green Fund and Sail Ventures, explained that &Green Fund related to land use, but its model could be replicated for blue carbon by looking at the concept of blended finance.

Mangroves grow along the water’s edge in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

“We need to understand, when we talk about finance, that this is really about linking it to the market,” she said. “We are trying to correct the market forces.”

In terms of blended finance, Salim suggested that the conventional financial sector may not yet fully understand how to mitigate risks related to blue carbon, and therefore has a low appetite for them. Thus, it is all about “absorbing some of the risks that cannot be absorbed by the conventional financial sector.”

“This is the blended part. It’s really sharing the risk,” she said. “Basically the public fund is taking up a portion of the risk — that’s the basic principle of blended finance.”

According to Salim, climate risk and strategy must be incorporated into planning, and such strategies should not only account for economic return, but also environmental returns such as the number of hectares of forest that have been conserved, and social inclusion factors such as jobs created or improvements for smallholder suppliers.

“If you don’t involve stakeholders in the area, it won’t be sustainable,” she stressed, adding that companies which had seriously implemented environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk into their strategies have shown to be performing better as a result.

“The social and environmental returns make economic sense,” she said, “because what you want is […] business that is sustainable, that lasts,” reiterating that &Green Fund is trying to finance a gap that the conventional financial sector cannot absorb.

Read also: Failure to manage blue carbon ecosystems could break the internet 

Mangroves and sandbanks protect the shore in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

Ecotourism is another route to preserving nature while also providing incomes, as outlined by Bustar Maitar, Director of Kurabesi Nusantara Indonesia, a social enterprise offering liveaboard diving tours in eastern Indonesia.

Despite hundreds of comparable boats operating in the archipelago, Maitar said only 12 were Indonesian owned, representing a big growth opportunity for Indonesian investment.

Continuing the investment conversation, Fitrian Adriansyah, chairman of the executive board of IDH (Sustainable Trade Initiative) Indonesia, discussed how IDH invests in collaboration with the private sector.

“We believe sustainable production and trade can transform markets for the benefit of people and the planet,” he said. There is a need to promote greater understanding between the public and private sectors, he added, which “cannot be done if we cannot bridge the gap in terms of understanding the risk when it comes to investment in blue carbon.”

IDH, which invests in commodities, including aquaculture and mangroves, purports to seek impact rather than financial return. Responding to concerns that aquaculture is seen as an “enemy” of blue carbon efforts, Adriansyah said IDH’s criteria in selecting investment opportunities comprised improved productivity; protecting remaining forests; and the inclusion of villagers, smallholders or the community.

Finally, Muhammad Senang Semibiring, a Senior Advisor to the Indonesian Biodiversity Foundation (KEHATI), outlined private financing through a community-based coastal carbon corridor initiative. KEHATI, the first and largest biodiversity conservation trust fund in Indonesia, was begun 25 years ago and makes use of public-private partnerships toward the achievement of SDG 17.

By investing in natural solutions, many elements of coastal areas can be protected. There can be economic benefits in doing so, including for the lives of community members. In identifying the challenges facing the financing of blue carbon initiatives, stakeholders can assess these returns and – as evidenced by the discussions at the Blue Carbon Summit – achieve social and economic benefits as well as environmental advantages.

Read also: Seagrass meadows: Underutilized and over-damaged carbon sinks

By Hannah Maddison-Harris, FTA Communications and Editorial Coordinator. 

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  • Seagrass meadows: Underutilized and over-damaged carbon sinks

Seagrass meadows: Underutilized and over-damaged carbon sinks

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Fishing boats rest on the shore at a research site in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

As global conservation awareness about mangroves, salt marshes and other coastal ecosystems continues to grow, seagrass meadows are being left at the bottom.

Hidden underwater, seagrass meadows may cover less than .2% of the ocean floor, but they are responsible for an estimated 10% or more of the ‘blue’ carbon sequestered by the ocean each year – storing only slightly less carbon per hectare than well-known mangrove ecosystems. And unlike forests, which rerelease the carbon they store after decades or centuries, seagrass meadows can hold onto their carbon stocks for millennia.

Lung-like in function, 1 square meter of seagrass can generate 10 liters of oxygen daily to its surrounding waters while filtering out pollutants and adding in nutrients that feed its inhabitant manatees, turtles, seahorses, sharks and dugong – as well as fisheries. A recent study says seagrass meadows are grounds for a fifth of the world’s top 25 fisheries, making them crucial to global food security and livelihoods.

Yet, these ecosystems are rapidly deteriorating, their rate of decline increasing from .9% before 1940 to 7% since 1990. In total, an estimated 29% of all seagrass meadows have vanished. Scientists say this rate is equal to the loss of a football field’s worth of seagrass every half hour.

In consequence, seagrass carbon stocks can be – and often are – released in an instant. Warmer waters from climate change, or the drop of an anchor, can unearth carbon that has been stored for thousands of years.

At the recent Blue Carbon Summit in Jakarta, researchers examining seagrass in Indonesia shared findings on these under-researched ecosystems, and what needs to be done to ensure their longevity going forward.

Read also: Failure to manage blue carbon ecosystems could break the internet

A patch of mangroves leans against the wind and waves in Rio Tumbes, Peru. Photo by B. Locatelli/CIFOR

FROM THE LAND TO THE SEA

About 100 million years ago, species of flowering plants migrated from terrestrial to aquatic environments, maintaining their roots, veins, and ability to produce flowers and seeds as they went. More closely related to palms and lilies than their much-simpler seaweed doppelgangers, seagrass reproduces via hydrophilic pollination and exchanges nutrients and gases with water through its leaves.

Now, some 72 species of seagrass exist around the world, varying in adaptation across different latitudes, water temperatures, tides, wave exposure and sediment substrate types of the sea floor. They can make their home in sub-tidal depths of up to 40 meters, in mud and silt, in sand coarse or fine, in coral alive and dead, and in areas with other competing species.

Subsequently, the way seagrass stores carbon also varies from place to place, dependent on similar factors. If a meadow is composed of one or many seagrass species, the carbon storage is affected. If the species are big or small, the carbon storage is affected. If the water gets warmer, or size of sand particles gets larger, or a migratory species comes passing through, the carbon storage is affected.

Protecting, managing and restoring seagrass meadows, then, begins with knowing the site-specificity of species and carbon storage. Off the south coast of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, for instance, Rohani Ambo-Rappe, Faculty of Marine and Fisheries at Hasanuddin University, found that meadows with high exposure to waves stored more carbon in the aboveground biomass of its seagrass, while low-exposure zones saw more carbon stored in roots below the sediment surface.

Meanwhile, in West and East Java, Dr. Devi Choesin from the Bandung Institute of Technology found that most carbon was stored below the sediment across the board, though with a great degree of variability. Given the wide number of contingencies at play, research methods for seagrass, she said, are difficult to standardize, contributing in part to the relative lack of data on seagrass so far.

“How much seagrass is left in Indonesia? If you ask 10 people, you’ll get 10 different answers,” said Tonny Wagey, Executive Director of the Indonesia Climate Change Trust Fund.

Read also: Governing mangroves: From Tanzania to Indonesia

FACTORING IN THE INVISIBLE

The reasons for the decline of seagrass range from the usual suspects – water pollution, plastic waste, eutrophication, tourism development – to the less obvious, such as overgrazing of sea turtles, waves and water currents.

But because of the extant lack of attention and scientific focus on these ecosystems, they have yet to be formally included in major global initiatives and platforms, such as REDD+ and the UNFCCC agenda.

Within the agenda of Indonesia – which has the second-largest seagrass landscape globally, after Australia – the ambitious national goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 26% by 2020 could use the help of seagrass, speakers at the Summit said, rather than putting all of the pressure on land-based ecosystems.

Sustainable management and development of seagrass in sectors such as fisheries can also contribute to the country’s Low Carbon Development initiative, as well as local enterprises making use of seagrass in its more traditional purposes: for fertilizer, furniture and building materials, and medical bandages and supplies. To meet President Joko Widodo’s bid to reduce plastic waste 70% by 2025, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Natural Resources said that seagrass along with cassava can be used in lieu of plastic in drinking water bottles.

In the ‘white papers’ being developed by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and partners to inform future Indonesian policy – a foremost outcome of the Summit – seagrass is included in the first recommendation, highlighting its crucial role in keeping pace with sea level rise, an important step toward changing the tide for these ecosystems.

Watch: Protecting North Sumatran mangroves, supporting biodiversity, people and the world

By Gabrielle Lipton, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News


This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

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  • Seagrass meadows: Underutilized and over-damaged carbon sinks

Seagrass meadows: Underutilized and over-damaged carbon sinks

Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Fishing boats rest on the shore at a research site in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

As global conservation awareness about mangroves, salt marshes and other coastal ecosystems continues to grow, seagrass meadows are being left at the bottom.

Hidden underwater, seagrass meadows may cover less than .2% of the ocean floor, but they are responsible for an estimated 10% or more of the ‘blue’ carbon sequestered by the ocean each year – storing only slightly less carbon per hectare than well-known mangrove ecosystems. And unlike forests, which rerelease the carbon they store after decades or centuries, seagrass meadows can hold onto their carbon stocks for millennia.

Lung-like in function, 1 square meter of seagrass can generate 10 liters of oxygen daily to its surrounding waters while filtering out pollutants and adding in nutrients that feed its inhabitant manatees, turtles, seahorses, sharks and dugong – as well as fisheries. A recent study says seagrass meadows are grounds for a fifth of the world’s top 25 fisheries, making them crucial to global food security and livelihoods.

Yet, these ecosystems are rapidly deteriorating, their rate of decline increasing from .9% before 1940 to 7% since 1990. In total, an estimated 29% of all seagrass meadows have vanished. Scientists say this rate is equal to the loss of a football field’s worth of seagrass every half hour.

In consequence, seagrass carbon stocks can be – and often are – released in an instant. Warmer waters from climate change, or the drop of an anchor, can unearth carbon that has been stored for thousands of years.

At the recent Blue Carbon Summit in Jakarta, researchers examining seagrass in Indonesia shared findings on these under-researched ecosystems, and what needs to be done to ensure their longevity going forward.

Read also: Failure to manage blue carbon ecosystems could break the internet

A patch of mangroves leans against the wind and waves in Rio Tumbes, Peru. Photo by B. Locatelli/CIFOR

FROM THE LAND TO THE SEA

About 100 million years ago, species of flowering plants migrated from terrestrial to aquatic environments, maintaining their roots, veins, and ability to produce flowers and seeds as they went. More closely related to palms and lilies than their much-simpler seaweed doppelgangers, seagrass reproduces via hydrophilic pollination and exchanges nutrients and gases with water through its leaves.

Now, some 72 species of seagrass exist around the world, varying in adaptation across different latitudes, water temperatures, tides, wave exposure and sediment substrate types of the sea floor. They can make their home in sub-tidal depths of up to 40 meters, in mud and silt, in sand coarse or fine, in coral alive and dead, and in areas with other competing species.

Subsequently, the way seagrass stores carbon also varies from place to place, dependent on similar factors. If a meadow is composed of one or many seagrass species, the carbon storage is affected. If the species are big or small, the carbon storage is affected. If the water gets warmer, or size of sand particles gets larger, or a migratory species comes passing through, the carbon storage is affected.

Protecting, managing and restoring seagrass meadows, then, begins with knowing the site-specificity of species and carbon storage. Off the south coast of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, for instance, Rohani Ambo-Rappe, Faculty of Marine and Fisheries at Hasanuddin University, found that meadows with high exposure to waves stored more carbon in the aboveground biomass of its seagrass, while low-exposure zones saw more carbon stored in roots below the sediment surface.

Meanwhile, in West and East Java, Dr. Devi Choesin from the Bandung Institute of Technology found that most carbon was stored below the sediment across the board, though with a great degree of variability. Given the wide number of contingencies at play, research methods for seagrass, she said, are difficult to standardize, contributing in part to the relative lack of data on seagrass so far.

“How much seagrass is left in Indonesia? If you ask 10 people, you’ll get 10 different answers,” said Tonny Wagey, Executive Director of the Indonesia Climate Change Trust Fund.

Read also: Governing mangroves: From Tanzania to Indonesia

FACTORING IN THE INVISIBLE

The reasons for the decline of seagrass range from the usual suspects – water pollution, plastic waste, eutrophication, tourism development – to the less obvious, such as overgrazing of sea turtles, waves and water currents.

But because of the extant lack of attention and scientific focus on these ecosystems, they have yet to be formally included in major global initiatives and platforms, such as REDD+ and the UNFCCC agenda.

Within the agenda of Indonesia – which has the second-largest seagrass landscape globally, after Australia – the ambitious national goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 26% by 2020 could use the help of seagrass, speakers at the Summit said, rather than putting all of the pressure on land-based ecosystems.

Sustainable management and development of seagrass in sectors such as fisheries can also contribute to the country’s Low Carbon Development initiative, as well as local enterprises making use of seagrass in its more traditional purposes: for fertilizer, furniture and building materials, and medical bandages and supplies. To meet President Joko Widodo’s bid to reduce plastic waste 70% by 2025, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Natural Resources said that seagrass along with cassava can be used in lieu of plastic in drinking water bottles.

In the ‘white papers’ being developed by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and partners to inform future Indonesian policy – a foremost outcome of the Summit – seagrass is included in the first recommendation, highlighting its crucial role in keeping pace with sea level rise, an important step toward changing the tide for these ecosystems.

Watch: Protecting North Sumatran mangroves, supporting biodiversity, people and the world

By Gabrielle Lipton, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News


This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

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  • Opening plenary of the Blue Carbon Summit 2018

Opening plenary of the Blue Carbon Summit 2018

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

The opening plenary will put into perspective the importance of blue carbon in both national and global agenda. High-level policymakers and prominent experts will emphasize blue carbon’s potential to mitigate climate change and enhance sustainable economic development. The session is expected to trigger dialogues across sector and stakeholders concern with blue carbon issues during the summit.

Originally published by CIFOR.

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  • Failure to manage blue carbon ecosystems could break the internet 

Failure to manage blue carbon ecosystems could break the internet 

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Daniel Murdiyarso, CIFOR Principal Scientist and IPB professor, speaks during the opening plenary of the Blue Carbon Summit. Photo by AIPI

Failing to properly manage “blue carbon” ecosystems could result in biodiversity losses, pronounced climate change effects and negative impacts on people’s livelihoods, and could even affect the internet. 

The Blue Carbon Summit held on July 17-18 in Jakarta, Indonesia, covered everything from the most well-known blue carbon ecosystems of mangroves and seagrass to coral reefs, the fish industry, ecotourism, plastic waste, shipping emissions and offshore mining.

Over two days, scientists, government, the private sector, media and likeminded community members came together for discussions that called for coordinated efforts to address issues related to blue carbon.

Blue carbon is that which is stored in coastal ecosystems, in contrast to “green carbon” stored in plants, trees and soil. In comparison to the attention paid to the carbon sequestered by forests, blue carbon has thus far remained relatively under the radar – but this belies its importance.

“We are here to correct an imbalance,” said Robert Nasi, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), during the summit opening, referring to the global focus on issues such as deforestation and greenhouse gases. “What is happening in coastal areas seems a bit forgotten. It’s a great time for us to bring that to the fore.”

Sixty percent of the world’s population lives in coastal areas, where vital infrastructure can also be found worldwide, Nasi explained, underscoring the importance of both scientists and policymakers understanding how the ecosystems work and how they can be restored. “Coastal ecosystems are fundamental for the survival of the species, for ecosystem services, for biodiversity, and for blue carbon,” he added.

“If we don’t do anything about these coastal areas, about blue carbon ecosystems, what is going to happen to us?” Nasi asked, pointing out that aside from people’s livelihoods and biodiversity in coastal areas being at stake, major infrastructure such as fiber-optic cables is often below sea level and could theoretically end up under water. “So if we don’t do something, we may also lose some part of the internet.”

Read also: Coastal blue carbon from planted mangroves holds promise

Policymakers and scientific experts came together to discuss blue carbon’s potential to mitigate climate change and enhance sustainable economic development during the summit. Photo by AIPI

“We think that this is the right time to work on this topic because of a critical mass already sharing their knowledge, already having results,” said Daniel Murdiyarso, Principal Scientist at CIFOR, which coorganized the summit, and professor in the Department of Geophysics and Meteorology at Bogor Agricultural University (IPB).

“So we want to sit together and see how this can be provided for the government, to make a science-based recommendation related to blue carbon.”

Murdiyarso expressed his hope that findings from the summit could be mainstreamed into the public agenda and connected to the Paris agreement on climate change, especially given blue carbon’s clear links to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Read also: Focus on mangroves: Blue carbon science for sustainable development

Indonesian Academy of Sciences (AIPI) President Satrio Sumantri Brodjonegoro concurred, saying that the discussions were expected to identify gaps hindering the mainstreaming of blue carbon in the national agenda and to pave the way for blue carbon development in Indonesia. As the world’s largest archipelago, with 99,000 kilometers of coastline, the country is well-placed to not only set its own path but also to set a global example.

After the opening plenary on Day 1, subplenary sessions looked at the roles of non-state actors and the donor community. Following that, a series of parallel discussion forums considered the fishing industry, marine tourism and the shipping industry, governance systems, financing blue carbon development, hydrodynamic and sustainable coastal resources, and seagrass and climate change.

Day 2 began with a keynote speech from Indonesia’s Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, before subplenary sessions on international partnerships and a high-level forum of government representatives. The day was rounded out with parallel discussion forums on subsidence, sedimentation and sea-level rises, and mangroves and climate.

The discussions from the summit are expected to be developed into a white paper, set to cover the following points.

  • Blue carbon in both open ocean and coastal ecosystems, including mangroves and seagrasses, is important for climate change mitigation because of its significant carbon storage capacity compared with terrestrial ecosystems. These ecosystems also offer significant climate change adaptation opportunities, especially in helping coastal regions keep pace with sea level rise.
  • Blue carbon ecosystems provide numerous services to people and now is the time to consider their role in developing alternative livelihoods. Sustainable ecotourism, fisheries and shellfish farming are all industries that generate direct economic benefits while protecting intact mangroves.
  • Conservation and restoration are essential components of the blue carbon economy
  • Implementation of a blue carbon economy needs to take into consideration more than just carbon, and should encompass economic sectors such as fisheries, ecotourism, transportation and shipping.
  • Due to complex history and geography, governance structures and institutionalizing the blue carbon economy have posed considerable challenges in the past.
  • Mechanisms to finance the blue carbon economy must reflect the unique benefits and challenges of blue carbon and help overcome institutional biases.
  • The participation of local communities is essential to establishing the blue carbon economy
  • While the level of understanding of blue carbon is sufficient, capacity development will require stakeholders to be better connected.
  • To put blue carbon on national and global agendas, there must be a stronger coalition within and between government agencies to engage a wider network of stakeholders.
  • Partnerships are key to the success of achieving national and global objectives and goals. Learning lessons from partners is cost effective and therefore should be encouraged, while opportunities for greater cooperation should be enhanced.
A mangrove forest thrives in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

“Improved policies and implementation of blue carbon initiatives in the context of addressing climate change certainly cannot be done by one country. This effort requires coordination and engagement of all elements of development, at the national and regional levels – with the support of all parties including governments, private sector, communities as well as national and international development partners,” Gellwynn Yusuf, representing Indonesia’s National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS), said in closing the event.

This could be a mechanism for Indonesia to achieve SDGs, particularly by meeting Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) while also improving economic factors. While acknowledging that coordination among agencies was important, and that some financing challenges remained to be solved, Yusuf called on the international community to support Indonesia’s efforts in making blue carbon a key policy for combating the negative impacts of climate change.

“As the global leader in blue carbon ecosystems, Indonesia has an opportunity to demonstrate strong leadership and set the direction internationally for other countries,” he said.

By Hannah Maddison-Harris, FTA Communications and Editorial Coordinator. 


The Blue Carbon Summit was organized by AIPI, CIFOR, the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF). 

This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

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Failure to manage blue carbon ecosystems could break the internet 

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Daniel Murdiyarso, CIFOR Principal Scientist and IPB professor, speaks during the opening plenary of the Blue Carbon Summit. Photo by AIPI

Failing to properly manage “blue carbon” ecosystems could result in biodiversity losses, pronounced climate change effects and negative impacts on people’s livelihoods, and could even affect the internet. 

The Blue Carbon Summit held on July 17-18 in Jakarta, Indonesia, covered everything from the most well-known blue carbon ecosystems of mangroves and seagrass to coral reefs, the fish industry, ecotourism, plastic waste, shipping emissions and offshore mining.

Over two days, scientists, government, the private sector, media and likeminded community members came together for discussions that called for coordinated efforts to address issues related to blue carbon.

Blue carbon is that which is stored in coastal ecosystems, in contrast to “green carbon” stored in plants, trees and soil. In comparison to the attention paid to the carbon sequestered by forests, blue carbon has thus far remained relatively under the radar – but this belies its importance.

“We are here to correct an imbalance,” said Robert Nasi, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), during the summit opening, referring to the global focus on issues such as deforestation and greenhouse gases. “What is happening in coastal areas seems a bit forgotten. It’s a great time for us to bring that to the fore.”

Sixty percent of the world’s population lives in coastal areas, where vital infrastructure can also be found worldwide, Nasi explained, underscoring the importance of both scientists and policymakers understanding how the ecosystems work and how they can be restored. “Coastal ecosystems are fundamental for the survival of the species, for ecosystem services, for biodiversity, and for blue carbon,” he added.

“If we don’t do anything about these coastal areas, about blue carbon ecosystems, what is going to happen to us?” Nasi asked, pointing out that aside from people’s livelihoods and biodiversity in coastal areas being at stake, major infrastructure such as fiber-optic cables is often below sea level and could theoretically end up under water. “So if we don’t do something, we may also lose some part of the internet.”

Read also: Coastal blue carbon from planted mangroves holds promise

Policymakers and scientific experts came together to discuss blue carbon’s potential to mitigate climate change and enhance sustainable economic development during the summit. Photo by AIPI

“We think that this is the right time to work on this topic because of a critical mass already sharing their knowledge, already having results,” said Daniel Murdiyarso, Principal Scientist at CIFOR, which coorganized the summit, and professor in the Department of Geophysics and Meteorology at Bogor Agricultural University (IPB).

“So we want to sit together and see how this can be provided for the government, to make a science-based recommendation related to blue carbon.”

Murdiyarso expressed his hope that findings from the summit could be mainstreamed into the public agenda and connected to the Paris agreement on climate change, especially given blue carbon’s clear links to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Read also: Focus on mangroves: Blue carbon science for sustainable development

Indonesian Academy of Sciences (AIPI) President Satrio Sumantri Brodjonegoro concurred, saying that the discussions were expected to identify gaps hindering the mainstreaming of blue carbon in the national agenda and to pave the way for blue carbon development in Indonesia. As the world’s largest archipelago, with 99,000 kilometers of coastline, the country is well-placed to not only set its own path but also to set a global example.

After the opening plenary on Day 1, subplenary sessions looked at the roles of non-state actors and the donor community. Following that, a series of parallel discussion forums considered the fishing industry, marine tourism and the shipping industry, governance systems, financing blue carbon development, hydrodynamic and sustainable coastal resources, and seagrass and climate change.

Day 2 began with a keynote speech from Indonesia’s Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, before subplenary sessions on international partnerships and a high-level forum of government representatives. The day was rounded out with parallel discussion forums on subsidence, sedimentation and sea-level rises, and mangroves and climate.

The discussions from the summit are expected to be developed into a white paper, set to cover the following points.

  • Blue carbon in both open ocean and coastal ecosystems, including mangroves and seagrasses, is important for climate change mitigation because of its significant carbon storage capacity compared with terrestrial ecosystems. These ecosystems also offer significant climate change adaptation opportunities, especially in helping coastal regions keep pace with sea level rise.
  • Blue carbon ecosystems provide numerous services to people and now is the time to consider their role in developing alternative livelihoods. Sustainable ecotourism, fisheries and shellfish farming are all industries that generate direct economic benefits while protecting intact mangroves.
  • Conservation and restoration are essential components of the blue carbon economy
  • Implementation of a blue carbon economy needs to take into consideration more than just carbon, and should encompass economic sectors such as fisheries, ecotourism, transportation and shipping.
  • Due to complex history and geography, governance structures and institutionalizing the blue carbon economy have posed considerable challenges in the past.
  • Mechanisms to finance the blue carbon economy must reflect the unique benefits and challenges of blue carbon and help overcome institutional biases.
  • The participation of local communities is essential to establishing the blue carbon economy
  • While the level of understanding of blue carbon is sufficient, capacity development will require stakeholders to be better connected.
  • To put blue carbon on national and global agendas, there must be a stronger coalition within and between government agencies to engage a wider network of stakeholders.
  • Partnerships are key to the success of achieving national and global objectives and goals. Learning lessons from partners is cost effective and therefore should be encouraged, while opportunities for greater cooperation should be enhanced.
A mangrove forest thrives in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

“Improved policies and implementation of blue carbon initiatives in the context of addressing climate change certainly cannot be done by one country. This effort requires coordination and engagement of all elements of development, at the national and regional levels – with the support of all parties including governments, private sector, communities as well as national and international development partners,” Gellwynn Yusuf, representing Indonesia’s National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS), said in closing the event.

This could be a mechanism for Indonesia to achieve SDGs, particularly by meeting Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) while also improving economic factors. While acknowledging that coordination among agencies was important, and that some financing challenges remained to be solved, Yusuf called on the international community to support Indonesia’s efforts in making blue carbon a key policy for combating the negative impacts of climate change.

“As the global leader in blue carbon ecosystems, Indonesia has an opportunity to demonstrate strong leadership and set the direction internationally for other countries,” he said.

By Hannah Maddison-Harris, FTA Communications and Editorial Coordinator. 


The Blue Carbon Summit was organized by AIPI, CIFOR, the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF). 

This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.


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