Mangroves are so special they have their own carbon: Blue carbon. Blue carbon is the carbon sequestered and stored by coastal habitats, specifically by mangroves, seagrasses and saltmarshes. Mangroves are capable of storing up to 50 times more carbon per unit of area than a tropical rainforest.
Unfortunately, mangroves are being lost rather quickly in South East Asia as they are transformed into aquaculture ponds. Although these ponds provide food security and cash alternatives to the local inhabitants, they only are operational for 3-10 years before being abandoned. However, rehabilitating abandoned aquaculture ponds back to mangroves could help restore the vital ecosystems that coastal communities rely on.
With this in mind, RIEL Researchers Clint Cameron and Ben Brown developed a pilot teaching program designed to train Indonesian decision-makers in ‘harnessing’ blue carbon and how this could significantly contribute to reducing the area’s carbon footprint while mitigating climate change
The teaching course had the participation of about 35 government decision makers from areas such as planning, forestry and fisheries and it involved indoor and outdoor practices. The insights gained from this type of interaction will lead to a much better understanding of how to conduct mangrove restoration.
Ben commented “During the fieldtrip part of the workshop we were looking at different mangrove rehabilitation attempts, where some were successful and others were not. It was a lot easier in the field to show people that planting mangroves where there is too much or too little tidal inundation doesn’t work, and the participants really took that message home”
The course was well accepted by all participants and there are plans to extend this venture to other countries, such as Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Timore Leste. On this matter, Clint said “We received some really encouraging, positive feedback from the participants. We we’re actually also invited to head out to Kupang which is a bit closer to home and help carry out some mangrove rehabilitation work there”.
This work in blue carbon in South East Asia is part of RIEL’s research agenda collaborating with a range of partners, including the Coral Triangle Center and the International Partnership for Blue Carbon based at the Department of the Environment and Energy (DoEE) in Canberra as well as Blue Forests, a local non-government organization based in Makassar, Indonesia.
If you wish to know about this project enormous potential, please refer to:
Radio interview link: http://territoryfm.com/podcasts/mornings-mel-little-75
Video link: Restoring Life: Tiwoho mangrove biodiversity survey. https://vimeo.com/280104443