Monday, March 18, 2013

‘Blue Carbon’ project in the UAE

‘Blue Carbon’ project continues to boost ecosystem health

March 18, 2013, The Gulf Today

ABU DHABI: The Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI), supported by the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD), last year launched a pioneering “Blue Carbon” project that connects local coastal and marine ecosystem health with climate change mitigation.  

Early results of the assessments indicate Abu Dhabi’s mangroves have more value at their old age than the newly-planted ones.

Blue Carbon coastal ecosystems include mangrove forests, sea-grass meadows and saltwater marshlands. These ecosystems continuously sequester (isolate) carbon from the atmosphere, sometimes at rates higher than tropical forests, thereby helping to mitigate climate change. 

The project draws together an international team of experts to investigate the critical role Abu Dhabi’s coastal and marine ecosystems play in fighting climate change.

As reported in January this year, the project assesses carbon sequestration and other services Abu Dhabi’s Blue Carbon ecosystems provide. The project is gaining an understanding of their geographic extent and assesses possible frameworks for the development of mitigation initiatives in Abu Dhabi.

In January, a team of international experts from GRID-Arendal, World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) and a team of coastal carbon scientists as well as EAD, AGEDI and local volunteers undertook field surveys to determine the extent, quality and baseline quantification of carbon stocks and sequestration potential of mangrove, salt marsh and sabkha coastal ecosystems.

Sites surveyed extended across the Emirate from Ghantoot in the East to Bu Tinah Island in the West. This fieldwork provided the essential data for current analysis assessing the total stock of carbon fixed by these ecosystems in Abu Dhabi.

During the fieldwork, a ground-truthing application, currently under development for this project was tested, its aim being the strengthening of information on Blue Carbon ecosystems’ distribution in the Emirate.

Another essential component of the fieldwork was the integration of EAD personnel and local volunteers from Zayed University, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and the Higher Colleges for Technology, Takatof as well as the Abu Dhabi community with global experts in these coastal ecosystems, to develop local capacity for the continuation of Blue Carbon assessments in the future.

This international involvement is an example of how, through the knowledge and experiences gained from this project, Abu Dhabi aims to provide global leadership in understanding and incentivising linkages between coastal management and climate change around the world, as countries move towards greening their economies. 

During the upcoming months, local stakeholders will be engaged to further explore how Blue Carbon and other ecosystem services can be integrated into policy and market frameworks in Abu Dhabi.