Friday, October 22, 2010

Blue Carbon Around the World

On October 10, 2010, people all over the world joined in what’s been described as the biggest day of environmental activism in history. Groups from 188 developed and developing nations participated in more than 7,000 activities as part of’s annual “Global Work Party” to mobilize action on climate change and address greenhouse gas pollution.

The 10/10/10 Global Work Party was not only intended to publicize the need to combat climate change but also to do something about it.

Events around the world included the planting of vegetable gardens, cycling instead of driving, installing solar panels, climate change lectures and rallies, and the cleaning up of local environments.

Blue carbon ‘solutions’ included – Groups involved in the restoration and conservation of many coastal and marine habitats actually also helped restore the oceans natural carbon function and mitigate climate change!

When healthy, certain marine ecosystems such as seagrass meadows, mangrove forests and saltwater marshlands absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide and thereby help mitigate the threat of climate change. These ‘blue carbon’ ecosystems are extremely effective at storing carbon – mangroves and coastal wetlands store 50 times more carbon than tropical forests by area. Conversely, the continued loss of these ecosystems decreases the ocean’s existing carbon stock and its capacity to mitigate climate change.

The conservation and restoration of blue carbon ecosystems can play a significant role in our actions to address climate change. Groups around the world – from Belize to Thailand – planted mangroves, conserved wetlands, and restored seagrass meadows and associated marine  habitats.

Blue carbon habitats, many of which are threatened, are also vital for marine biodiversity and the economies of many coastal communities - through tourism revenue and countless commercial and recreational fisheries.

The Global Work Party may be over, but our efforts are not. The following is a sample of blue carbon events that occurred around the world as part of the 10/10/10 Global Work Party for action on climate change. They represent marine conservation’s potential future as a positive and viable part of the solution to climate change.

Let’s make it happen! –

Belize, Caye Caulker – Mangrove planting
Mangroves were planted at Caye Caulker (north island) as part of the 10/10/10 global day of action on climate change. The event was a joint action by Caye Caulker Ocean Academy students and environmentalists and biologists from the Forest and Marine Reserves Association of Caye Caulker (FAMRACC). Other activities included environmental data collection and coastal restoration (beach clean-up).

Canada, Victoria – Seagrass meadow restoration and conservation
Seagrass meadows were restored by volunteers as part of efforts for action on climate change. The role that healthy seagrass meadows play in storing atmospheric carbon, and thereby helping to mitigate climate change, was highlighted in lectures during the event – the ‘Mudboots Party.’ Groups involved included Sierra Club BC, Seagrass Conservation Working Group, and Mayne Island Conservancy. Rockfish Divers supplied a dive boat in support of the event.

Fiji, Navua – Mangrove planting
Mangroves were planted by local students as part of a day of action on climate change organized by the Pacific Youth Climate Change Network.

Ghana, Sekondi – Mangrove planting and habitat restoration
The ‘Mangrove Conservation Festival’ was held as action for climate change mitigation on 10/10/10. Mangrove seedlings were planted and mangrove habitat was cleaned of debris by local students, officials, and business leaders. The event was organized by the Coastal Resources Center (CRC-Ghana) in collaboration with Crisis Action Solutions (CASOLS) and supported by Friends of the Nation (FoN) at the Essei Lagoon, Bakano in Sekondi, Ghana.

Indonesia, Jaboi, Pulau Weh – Mangrove planting
Mangrove seedlings were planted as part of the “Mangrove: Save the Reef, Save the Planet” event to highlight climate action on 10/10/10.

Maldives Marine conservation (underwater clean-up)
An underwater clean-up was held as part of the Global Work Party for action on climate change. Plastic was and other debris removed from the seas and reefs. The event was organized by the Feydhoo Youth Community and received support from the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF).

Nauru Marine conservation (underwater clean-up)
Divers took the plunge to clean-up marine habitats including coral reefs as part of a week long event of action on climate change on the smallest island nation of the world, Nauru (8.1 square miles). The “10/10/10 Reefers” event was organized by the Nauru National Youth Council (Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons).

Philippines, various locations – Seagrass conservation
The ‘Seagrass Initiative Information Campaign’ was launched by the Bayer Young Environmental Envoys in the Philippines to promote the cause of climate action and marine sustainability (Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons).

Philippines, Lapu-Lapu, Cebu – Coastal wetland conservation
Coastal wetland conservation and protection from marine debris was called for as part of action on climate change at the Olango Island Bird Sanctuary.

Philippines, Sagay City, Negros Occ. – Mangrove planting
A day of mangrove planting for local children (Eco-Kids) was organized by the Museo Sang Bata Sa as a message for action to address climate change – it’s fun to plant mangroves!

Spain, Formentera – Seagrass conservation
Seagrass conservation was highlighted in efforts to raise climate awareness. Pierre-Yves Cousteau and Diletta Carmellini, of Cousteau Divers, are pictured in one of Spain’s Posidonia ocenica seagrass prairies. The site was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999 (image by Manu San Felix).

Sri Lanka, Kiula – Mangrove planting and wetland conservation
Several schools were mobilized for mangrove planting and wetland conservation. 250 mangrove plants and 100 pandanus plants were planted as part of the solution to climate change and to urge politicians to pass clean energy policies.

Timor-Leste, Dili, Bidau Santana – Mangrove planting
Government officials joined hundreds in the planting of mangrove trees as part of the call for action on climate change.

Thailand, Upper Andaman Coast – Mangrove planting and conservation
A two day youth environmental seminar was held as part of the Global Work Party for action on climate change. Participants also planted mangrove seedlings for coastal projection. The event, the Second Annual Youth Network Seminar, was co-organized by Mangrove Action Project (MAP)-Asia Regional Office. Other groups involved included IUCN, Andaman Discoveries, Wetlands International, and Thailand Environment Institute. Sixty youth from coastal villages participated and learned about sustainable resource management, climate change and the importance of mangrove forests.

Tonga Mangrove planting and conservation
Mangroves were planted and coastal debris removed as part of events advancing action on climate change. The event was organized by the Tonga National Youth Congress.

USA, Miami, FL – Coastal habitat restoration and conservation
Volunteers helped restore coastal habitat and conservationists held a climate and clean energy rally on Miami Beach as part of an extended weekend of action for climate change. Invasive species were removed as part of the restoration efforts at Oleta State River Park - Florida’s largest urban park, and includes extensive mangrove habitat. The value of a healthy marine environment was incorporated into the climate rally.

Those involved the Miami's 10/10/10 events included Urban Paradise Guild, Branches Florida City, 1Sky, Konbit Haiti, Surfrider, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Blue Climate Solutions, 1Sky, Greenpeace, Emerge Miami, Oceana, ECOMB, Top Green Magazine, Repower America, Florida International University Students for Environmental Action, and many others.

USA, Fort Myers, FL – Mangrove planting
Florida Gulf Coast University students and faculty planted mangroves in Fort Myers, FL, as part of the Global Work Party for action on climate change. Mangroves were planted as an “investment in offsetting the carbon dioxide produced by the campus.” Over 80 students and faculty members participated.

Many thanks to the Mangrove Action Project, Tonga National Youth Congress, Rainbow Warriors International, and Bill Mckibben of for help in compiling this review.

-Steven Lutz, Blue Climate Solutions

Additional information:

Blue Climate Solutions, Mangrove Action Project, and Urban Paradise Guild are also members of the Blue Climate Coalition, an international partnership of over 70 groups and 150 marine scientists from 33 countries drawn together in advancing blue carbon policies. Coalition actions have included the issuing of key support statements to the US White House, Congress, and government agencies. We are currently looking for support and additional groups for our next round of Coalition letters (contact: steven.lutz {at}

UNEP report: “Blue Carbon - The Role of Healthy Oceans in Binding Carbon”, available at:

IUCN report: “The Management of Natural Coastal Carbon Sinks”, available at: