The MAP News, 411th Ed., 04 March 2017
We may have had the solution to carbon sequestration under our noses all along – but have we recognised it too late? Mangrove forests cover only a small percentage of the planet in comparison to other forest types – roughly 1.9% of coastline in the world – but they contain the largest source of carbon sequestration per hectare of land and are a major player in the carbon cycle of the oceans. This means they have high economic value as “blue carbon” – carbon captured in oceans and coastal ecosystems – but around the world they have often been destroyed in the course of coastal development, agricultural and mining activities. Increasingly, however, they are being acknowledged as formidable carbon sinks. But has this acknowledgement come too late? Does the ongoing loss mean we’ve squandered our best last chance to put the brake on global warming? Carbon is stored as biomass in the sediment captured through the growth of mangroves. The carbon produced by its decomposing roots alone is a major contributor to this complex sink. The removal of mangroves adds 10% to the total carbon lost from global tropical deforestation through greenhouse gas emissions.