Friday, April 27, 2012

Blue Carbon Featured in Landmark Climate/Coastal Habitat Restoration Report

A new report linking ecologically important coastal habitat restoration efforts with adaption and mitigation strategies as a method for reducing the impacts of climate change was released on April 19th by Restore America's Estuaries.

The report, which includes Blue Carbon, is titled "Restore - Adapt - Mitigate: Responding to Climate Change through Coastal Habitat Restoration".

Restore America’s Estuaries Releases Landmark Climate/Coastal Habitat Restoration Report  

“Restore-Adapt-Mitigate: Responding to Climate Change through Coastal Habitat Restoration” Links Restoration, Adaptation, and Mitigation as Strategies to Limit Climate Change Impacts 

WASHINGTON / 19 April 2012 / Restore America's Estuaries

A landmark study released today by Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE)  for the first time links ecologically important coastal habitat restoration with adaptation and mitigation strategies as a way to reduce the impacts of ongoing global climate  change. 

The report, “Restore-Adapt-Mitigate: Responding to Climate Change through Coastal  Habitat Restoration,” demonstrates that coastal wetland restoration—everything from  restoring salt marshes, to protecting mangroves, and creating new coastal wetland habitats—can be an integral part of public and private initiatives to combat climate change. 

The report examines the current state of U.S. coasts; likely effects of climate change on those coasts; coastal planning, design, and policymaking considerations; why coastal habitat restoration is essential to climate change adaptation and mitigation; and new findings that indicate that coastal tidal wetlands are efficient carbon sinks for greenhouse gases responsible for much observed global warming, making them essential components of efforts to reduce climate change impacts. The report is a multi-author collaboration bringing together internationally recognized experts in environmental science, policy, and coastal habitat restoration. 

Among the report’s key findings and recommendations:
  • America’s coasts face unprecedented stresses as a result of ongoing—and likely accelerating—global climate change; early and swift action is essential if we are to reduce its effects.
  • Government policy makers and restoration professionals must adopt an ecosystem-based restoration perspective featuring coordinated regional planning and projects.
  • Coastal restoration does not exist apart from coastal communities and their residents. In fact, the fate and, in some cases, existence of these communities is inextricably linked to healthy coasts and estuaries. Coastal residents must be made aware of and invested in the need for preservation and adaptation where possible, and restoration and mitigation where needed.
  • Many of the expected effects from climate change—global warming, sea level rise, coastal erosion, and an increase in the number and intensity of major storms—may not happen gradually and incrementally.  Current evidence suggests that there may be a sudden tipping point, beyond which major and potentially catastrophic changes in weather, temperature, and sea level occur.
  • New science indicates that coastal wetlands—particularly tidal-saline wetland systems—are incredibly efficient carbon sinks for greenhouse gases (GHG). This makes coastal restoration, adaptation, and mitigation essential elements in government planning and policy, and has profound ramifications and opportunities for government and commercial investments in domestic and international carbon markets.

“The restoration and conservation of the world’s coasts is among the greatest challenges of the 21st century. We are now at a crossroads. This report gives both governments and private interests new information and recommendations in the effort to reduce the effects of global climate change,” said Dr. Brian Needelman, lead author and editor for the report, and Associate Professor of Soil Science at the University of Maryland.  

Particularly important, he noted, are the findings and research into the efficacy of coastal wetlands in carbon sequestration. 

Carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane are potent greenhouse gases (GHG), which contribute to global warming. While it is well known that forest ecosystems can store large amounts of GHG carbon—popularly known as “Green Carbon”—and help reduce global warming, new research is focusing on so-called “Blue Carbon” in coastal wetland ecosystems such as mangroves, seagrasses, and salt marshes. Recent findings suggest that coastal wetlands can sequester carbon at rates 3-5 times greater than temperate forests, making them efficient—and essential—carbon “sinks,” as world temperatures and sea levels rise.   

“Coastal wetlands not only store carbon, restored and expanded tidal wetlands sequester vast amounts of carbon dioxide as well, providing big incentives for the private sector to invest in large-scale restoration of tidal wetlands,” said Jeff Benoit, President and Executive Director of Restore America’s Estuaries.  He notes that Restore America’s Estuaries has been a leader in the effort to create a national greenhouse gas protocol for coastal tidal wetlands. Such a protocol would bring coastal wetlands into international carbon markets, providing new opportunities and incentives for public and private investment in the restoration and preservation of vital tidal wetlands. 

Report contributors include: Stephen Crooks, Director of Climate Change Services at ESA PWA; Janet Hawkes, Managing Director of HD1 LLC; Brian Needelman, Associate Professor of Soil Science at the University of Maryland/Department of Environmental Science and Technology; Caroly Shumway, President of CAS Environmental Solutions; Richard Takacs, NOAA Fisheries Biologist; and James G. Titus, a Lawyer-Applied Mathematician with the U.S. EPA. 

Funding for the report was provided by the Henry Phillip Kraft Family Memorial Fund of the New York Community Trust, the Marisla Foundation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Coastal Program. 

Founded in 1995, Restore America’s Estuaries ( is a national alliance of 11 regional, coastal conservation organizations with more than 250,000 volunteer-members dedicated to preserving our nation’s estuaries. RAE members include: American Littoral Society, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Conservation Law Foundation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Galveston Bay Foundation, North Carolina Coastal Federation, People For Puget Sound, Save The Bay-Narragansett Bay, Save The Bay-San Francisco, Save the Sound, a program of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, and Tampa Bay Watch. 
To download the full report, go to:

For additional information, please contact: Howard White, Communications Specialist,
Restore America’s Estuaries at 703-524-0248, hwhite (at)