The value of mangroves, or ‘blue forests’, to coastal communities is matched only by the extraordinary amount of carbon stored in their biomass and sediments, known as ‘blue carbon’. This carbon has a value on international carbon markets.
If this value can be realised and transferred to the people whose livelihoods depend on the exploitation of mangroves, it could incentivise and finance community-led mangrove management, and help safeguard the fisheries that mangroves support.
However, blue carbon has not been fully included in emissions accounting, and standards for blue carbon markets are still in their infancy. We are working to change this by researching the carbon dynamics of mangroves, helping to develop robust accounting methodologies for blue carbon projects, and supporting community-led mangrove conservation in the Indian Ocean.
Madagascar’s mangroves support globally important marine biodiversity, and underpin the traditional livelihoods and fisheries of some of the world’s most vulnerable coastal communities. Yet they are being lost at accelerating rates, particularly because of unregulated harvesting for timber and charcoal sold at local and regional markets.
Increasing demand for seafood from a rapidly growing population and poorly regulated international markets are exacerbating the pressures on mangrove fisheries, with further devastating consequences to the livelihoods that they support.
Generating blue carbon credits through the sustainable management of mangroves could help to alleviate poverty and support biodiversity conservation in Madagascar’s coastal areas. We are contributing to the science required to make community-led, rights-based blue carbon projects a reality, and building the capacity of local management associations to protect their mangroves.
Our research is seeking to quantify the exact nature and dynamics of carbon sequestration and fluxes in Madagascar’s mangroves in order to ensure the proper valuation of blue carbon credits. By maintaining strong communications with national institutions, we are supporting the development of mangrove conservation projects that integrate into Madagascar’s national REDD+ strategy.
We believe that blue carbon projects should go beyond simply fulfilling the conditions of Free, Prior and Informed Consent; they should be driven and managed wholly by local stakeholders. We are building the foundations for coastal communities to participate meaningfully in blue carbon and gain an equitable share of the benefits by engaging local management associations in project planning, management and monitoring. We are also providing regular updates on our progress and technical capacity building to national authorities in support of these initiatives.
Our research priorities stem from our aim to develop blue carbon projects that fulfil the Verified Carbon Standard, Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance, and Plan Vivo standards. These are:
Quantifying greenhouse gas emission reductions that can be achieved through mangrove conservation
Understanding socioeconomic impacts of mangrove conservation
Through our research, we are working to ensure that blue carbon initiatives bring equitable benefits to mangrove-dependent communities.
Madagascar’s coastal communities stand to lose the most from the loss of mangrove habitats and, as the primary users of mangroves, are best placed to lead conservation initiatives.
We are working closely with community associations and local and regional authorities to:
Although protecting and restoring mangroves should revitalise fish stocks, beyond deforestation, mangrove fisheries face additional threats from overexploitation. Effective fisheries management must therefore be integrated into community mangrove conservation strategies.
We are working with communities in Madagascar to develop pragmatic mangrove fisheries management approaches, including the use of temporary and permanent closures of mangrove fishing grounds to rejuvenate and sustain mud crab and shrimp fisheries.
In close partnership with the private sector, we are also developing a financial model that integrates market-based incentives to drive sustainable mangrove fishing practices and ensure their long-term viability.
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