The value of blue forests to coastal communities is matched only by the extraordinary amount of carbon stored in their biomass and sediments, known as blue carbon. Blue forests represent only 3% of global terrestrial forest cover, yet 55% of all carbon captured in the world is blue carbon.
Linking coastal ecosystems to the role they play in mitigating climate change through carbon finance can incentivise their protection and safeguard the livelihoods that they support. However, blue carbon has not been fully included in emissions accounting or protocols, and blue carbon standards for carbon markets are still in their infancy.
We are working to change this by researching the carbon dynamics of blue forests ecosystems, helping to develop robust accounting methodologies for blue carbon projects, and supporting community-led mangrove conservation initiatives in Madagascar.
Madagascar’s 5,600 km coastline is home to one of the most extensive shallow marine habitats in the Western Indian Ocean region. Seagrass beds, mangrove forests and coastal wetlands are a vital support system for critical biodiversity, traditional livelihoods and the local fishing economy.
The generation of carbon credits through the conservation and restoration of blue forests could help to alleviate poverty and support biodiversity conservation in Madagascar’s coastal areas. Blue Ventures is contributing to the science required to make this a reality, and building the capacity of local communities to establish and manage their own mangrove conservation initiatives.
Our research is establishing the exact nature and dynamics of carbon sequestration and fluxes in Madagascar’s mangroves to ensure the proper valuation of blue carbon credits. By maintaining strong communications with national institutions, we are establishing mangrove conservation projects that integrate into Madagascar’s national REDD+ strategy.
Our research priorities stem from our aim to develop blue carbon projects that fulfil the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) standards. These are:
Quantifying greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions that can be achieved through mangrove REDD+
Understanding socioeconomic impacts of mangrove REDD+
Our research is enabling us to see how we can ensure that REDD+ brings equitable benefits to local stakeholders, and establish legal user and carbon rights for mangrove-dependent communities.
We are working to build the foundations for coastal communities to participate meaningfully in REDD+ and gain an equitable share of the benefits. More than just fulfilling the conditions of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), we believe that REDD+ projects should be driven and managed wholly by local stakeholders.
To bridge the gap between principle and practice, we are investing in building local management capacity. Our team is developing materials for communicating about mangrove REDD+, and running campaigns to raise awareness about these projects. By providing regular updates on our progress to local and national authorities, and engaging community management associations in project planning, we are ensuring a truly participatory approach.
To assist communities in preparing to manage REDD+ projects, we are teaching skills in forest management and carbon stock measurement, helping them to gain legal rights over natural resources, and providing training in governance and enforcement.
REDD+ projects can take several years to develop, and take place amidst continued policy and market uncertainty, so we are exploring other ways for communities to benefit from the sustainable management of mangroves in the near future.
In addition to REDD+ activities (conservation of intact mangroves, restoration of deforested areas and improved forestry management), we are also developing ways in which communities can enhance or earn new incomes from mangroves. These include:
These activities are bringing tangible economic benefits to communities while building the local management required to lead longer-term REDD+ projects.
More blue forests blogs
Dr Trevor Jones talks about the importance of mangroves for the coastal communities of Madagascar, and what we can do to protect them, in this article featured on National Geographic's Ocean Views.
Antsiranana, Madagascar Our Blue Forests research in the north of Madagascar is featured in Le Tribune de Diego et de Nord de Madagascar
Ambanja, Madagascar - New research presents the first total carbon stock estimates of mangrove ecosystem in Madagascar
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