A bounty of ecosystem services

Mangroves, seagrass beds and saltmarshes play a crucial role in protecting coasts, regulating water quality, providing habitat for countless marine species, and supplying food and raw materials. However, these critical goods and services will be lost completely if their deforestation and degradation continue at current rates of 1-2% per year.

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.


more carbon per unit area is sequestered by blue forests than undisturbed Amazonian rainforest


of global emissions from deforestation are caused by the loss of blue forests


communities are working with BV on sustainable forest management and blue carbon stock assessment


football pitches of mangroves exist in Madagascar

Find out more


Blue forests 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.

Meet our Blue Forests team

Geospatial Analyst; Manager, Blue Carbon Science
Portland, USA
Lisa Benson, Blue Ventures
Blue Carbon Science Manager
Ambanja, Madagascar
Blue Forests Specialist
Antananarivo, Madagascar
Blue Forests Project Manager
Ambanja, Madagascar
Blue Forests Coordinator (SW Madagascar)
Toliara, Madagascar
Blue Forests Coordinator (NW Madagascar)
Ambanja, Madagascar
Fisheries Community Liaison Officer
Ambanja, Madagascar
Fisheries Coordinator
Toliara, Madagascar
Blue Forests Project Manager (Velondriake LMMA)
Andavadoaka, Madagascar
Socioeconomic Scientist
Toliara, Madagascar
Socioeconomic Scientist
Ambanja, Madagascar
Blue Carbon Scientist
Ambanja, Madagascar
Research Technician; Geospatial Scientist
Ambanja, Madagascar
North West Site Manager
Ambanja, Madagascar
Community Liaison Officer
Ambanja, Madagascar
Local Focal Point
Andavadoaka, Madagascar
Driver and Assistant Research Technician
Ambanja, Madagascar

Our research

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+

  • Remote sensing analysis of the historical changes of mangrove forest cover
  • Carbon stock measurements within mangrove forests and wetlands
  • Analysis of the drivers and underlying causes of mangrove and wetland loss
  • Modelling of future mangrove forest and wetland changes

Understanding socioeconomic impacts of mangrove REDD+

  • Research to determine local uses of mangroves
  • Establishing socioeconomic baselines and projecting scenarios to evaluate the impacts of REDD+ activities
  • Research into climate change impacts on mangrove use and coastal livelihoods, and how to build the adaptive capacity of coastal communities
  • Analysis of traditional forest user rights, tenure and laws affecting implementation of REDD+ projects

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.

Building community capacity for REDD+

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.

Bundling mangrove ecosystem services

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:

  • Temporary community-managed mangrove fishery reserves aiming to increase crab, fish and shrimp populations – and improve local incomes
  • Sustainable management practices so communities can profit from the sustainable harvesting of mangrove wood
  • Long-term shoreline protection through wetland restoration and mangrove reforestation efforts

These activities are bringing tangible economic benefits to communities while building the local management required to lead longer-term REDD+ projects.

Blue forests partners

Latest blogs

Latest news


National Geographic: Communities Leading the Way to Save Madagascar’s Mangroves

Our Madagascar country coordinator, Brian Jones, talks about how local communities are leading the way to save Madagascar’s mangroves in this article featured on National Geographic’s Ocean Views.

Mangrove deforestation in Madagascar: What are the options?

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.


La mangrove

Antsiranana, Madagascar Our Blue Forests research in the north of Madagascar is featured in Le Tribune de Diego et de Nord de Madagascar 


Landmark study shows the true value of Madagascar's mangroves

Ambanja, Madagascar - New research presents the first total carbon stock estimates of mangrove ecosystem in Madagascar

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