Thursday, October 15, 2009

Seagrass Recovery joins the United Nations in calling attention to the need to restore critical Seagrass habitats in the World's oceans

http://www.seagrassrecovery.com/article_SeagrassRecoveryUnitedNations%20.htm

Today, Seagrass Recovery joins the United Nations in calling attention to the need to restore critical Seagrass habitats in the coastal zone of the World's oceans while creating jobs, reversing the decline of the fisheries and combating climate change.

TAMPA, FL - October 15, 2009 - A report released October 14, 2009 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) stresses the importance of urgent action to maintain and restore marine ecosystems such as seagrass, mangroves and salt marshes (blue carbon sinks) as the key to combating climate change. With the announcement, a call to action is being made for the restoration of the world's blue forests and blue carbon sinks to combat climate change and sea level rise. Florida based Seagrass Recovery has been successfully restoring seagrass meadows since 1996 and stands ready to meet this expected increase in the need for restoration of this important resource.

The report, “Blue Carbon: The Role of Healthy Oceans in Binding Carbon” was produced by three United Nations agencies and leading scientists. It found the ocean’s vegetative habitats (seagrass, mangroves and salt marshes) cover less than 1% of the seabed and equal less than .05% of the biomass on land but store a comparable amount of carbon per year, ranking them among the most efficient carbon sinks on the planet, and unlike carbon that may be locked away for decades or centuries on land, blue carbon stored in the oceans remain for millennia.
Unfortunately, over 30% of seagrass meadows have been lost since the 1940s and the rate is accelerating according to the report, sponsored by UNEP, the Food and Agricultural Organisation and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO. Seven percent of these “blue carbon sinks” are being lost annually – seven times the rate of loss of 50 years ago.

According to the report, “If more action is not taken to sustain these vital ecosystems, most may be lost within two decades”, thus the loss of all of the benefits these habitats provide, not just in battling climate change.

The report’s findings detail that the key element to combating climate change is the restoration of degraded seagrass meadows. Seagrass Recovery has spent the last 14 years developing innovative techniques and patented technologies to replant and restore damaged seagrass areas. The success of these methods have been scientifically evaluated and documented by National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Jeff Beggins, President and CEO of Seagrass Recovery stated that, "We applaud this exciting realization that restoration projects focused on Seagrass habitats in our coastal zone no longer should happen, but must happen. Seagrass Recovery recognizes that through creating jobs in our coastal communities and restoring these valuable blue carbon sinks, we look forward to playing a significant role in the reversal of the issues facing our planet as we combat climate change and sea level rise while making our coastline more resilient."

It is understood that Seagrasses provide countless benefits to our planet such as being the nursery of the ocean, providing habitat and sustenance for 70% of marine life, its direct correlation to water quality and providing protection for inshore coral reef ecosystems as well as the protection of our coastlines from coastal erosion. With the additional value add of these ecosystems being presented by this research in the fight against climate change and sea level rise, Seagrass and other coastal habitats will certainly benefit from the increased attention and awareness of the newly published finding with regards to the ocean's role in permanently sequestering carbon. This opportunity may create the ability to fund large scale restoration projects in the coastal zone focused on seagrasses, salt marshes and mangroves for the value these ecosystems present in worldwide carbon trading markets.

In Florida alone, according to information published by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) in 1995, over 175,000 acres of prop scarring exist in the seagrass meadows found in the coastal waters of Florida. Information such as this provides a real world example of the degradation mentioned by the UN and the opportunities it presents to the Global economy. For example, a simple restoration of 100 acres will put over 1,000 coastal residents to work. Through the implementation of successful restoration techniques, such as Seagrass Recovery’s sediment tubes, to restore seagrass injuries sites, we can respond to this call to immediate action presented by this UN report to focus restoration opportunities on reversing the losses of these critical habitats through the restoration of the degraded habitats as well as the creation of new ecosystems.

"In these challenging economic times, we have the ability to place literally thousands of job seekers to work in long term sustainable careers while ensuring the future health of coastal habitats for a multitude of reasons, this report is very exciting." says Beggins.

The full report, “Blue Carbon: the Role of Healthy Oceans in Binding Carbon” can be accessed at www.grida.no/publications/rr/blue-carbon/

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