Beyond the wide array of marine biodiversity and ecosystems, the East Asian region hosts the world’s largest coastal carbon stocks which play a vital role in the global carbon cycle. Endowed with four million hectares of mangroves, three million hectares of seagrass meadows and a wide extent of tidal marshes, the region has an immense capacity to sequester carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere.
Mangroves, seagrass meadows and tidal marshes are tagged as blue carbon ecosystems. These ecosystems can remove 10 times more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and can hold three to five times more carbon for longer periods of time than a tropical rainforest. Within just 2% of the area hosting coastal blue ecosystems, approximately 48% of carbon can be sequestered for long-term storage amounts which can help remove excessive carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Though often underappreciated, the vegetation and soil of these blue carbon ecosystems are worth billions of dollars of blue carbon value. Mangroves alone amount to approximately 111 billion dollars, while seagrass meadows can be the equivalent of 77 to 95 billion dollars.
Despite the growing recognition of coastal wetlands importance as a source of blue carbon, they remain threatened with up to 800,000 hectares destroyed each year, or approximately 1.5% of the global coverage. The loss of these coastal blue ecosystems can account for 10 to 20% of overall carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation annually. For these reasons, the role of coastal blue carbon in tackling carbon dioxide emissions and climate in general is continuously gaining attention in the international stage.
The upcoming East Asian Seas (EAS) Congress to be held from November 27 to 30, 2018 at the Iloilo Convention Center in Iloilo City, the Philippines, is encouraging everyone to join the global discourse on blue carbon. Together with ocean leaders and experts, the Congress will explore global research efforts as well as innovative approaches, strategies and opportunities for partnerships in pushing for blue carbon solutions in the region.
Participants can attend the following sessions:
– Establishing a Blue Carbon Research Network in the EAS Region by the Korea Environment Management Corporation (KOEM). This is a 4-hour session that will be pivotal in sharing regional and global information and state of the art research efforts on blue carbon resources.
– Local Governments’ Blue Carbon Solutions towards Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation by ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability and the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources. This session aims to provide a platform for city-to-city knowledge exchange among leaders and local champions to serve as the initial step towards collaboration, replication and scaling up of blue carbon solutions.
– Climate Change Mitigation? Blue Carbon is Nature’s Way to Do It. For this session, the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) Blue Carbon Project will convene experts and practitioners to share information, highlight gaps in knowledge and management, and build partnerships on blue carbon research and conservation in the region.
For more information on the EAS Congress, visit: http://eascongress2018.pemsea.org/