Momentum for mangrove restoration

01 September 2011 | News story

Efforts by IUCN and partners to restore the world’s mangrove forests have received a significant boost with the adoption of a new method for calculating the role that mangroves play in slowing climate change, by capturing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Mangrove forests are just one of several coastal ecosystems that play an important role in regulating climate and are commonly referred to as “blue carbon” solutions. Others include salt marshes, seagrasses, kelp forests and wetlands. Yet many mangroves have been degraded through the upstream building of dams, roads and irrigation channels.

The method, developed by IUCN and partner organizations, was recently adopted under the UN climate change convention’s Kyoto Protocol, as part of the Clean Development Mechanism that supports emission reduction projects in developing countries.

This will provide a significant boost to restoration efforts for mangrove forests, which grow in tropical and sub-tropical coastal regions and provide a wide range of biological services such as breeding grounds for fish and a source of timber for local populations.

“The fact that this new methodology is now part of the Clean Development Mechanism should allow us to achieve similar results for other types of coastal and marine ecosystems,” says Carl Gustaf Lundin, Director of the IUCN Global Marine and Polar Programme. “Adopting new policies and financing mechanisms for protection and management of our oceans should be at the heart of nature-based solutions to climate change.”

The methodology, developed by IUCN, Ramsar and environmental consultancy Sylvestrum, was based on field experiences from a three-year partnership with food and water company Danone and its brand Evian which carried out large mangrove restoration projects together with local communities in Africa and Asia.

“The new methodology will open up opportunities for mangrove restoration on a far greater scale,” says Bernard Giraud, Danone Vice President of Sustainability. “It will have a very significant impact on local communities and will stimulate companies to make corporate-level investment and grasp new carbon offsetting opportunities in coastal regions.”

“The formal inclusion of wetland ecosystems into the Clean Development Mechanism represents much more than a mere expansion of the global carbon market,” says David Huberman, Coordinator of IUCN’s work on Greening the Economy. “Investing in mangrove restoration is not only about capturing carbon emissions, it is also about supporting local livelihoods and using ecosystems as green infrastructure to manage climate-related risks. IUCN is strongly encouraged by this latest demonstration of the growing interest in applying nature-based approaches to achieve sustainable development.”

For more information please contact:
James Oliver, Global Marine and Polar Programme, james.oliver@iucn.org