Blue forests - seagrasses, salt marshes, and mangroves - provide many vital ecosystem services, supporting coastal communities around the globe. They are also recognized as important natural carbon sinks. Blue forests, however, are threatened by overuse and unsustainable practices. The degradation of these ecosystems can also release stored carbon and so contributing to the threat of climate change.
The blue forests concept - the promotion of better coastal ecosystem management by harnessing the values associated with carbon and other ecosystem services - offers hope in the countering of continued coastal ecosystem degradation and the promotion of sustainable management practices by turning their values into revenue and sustainable management options.
Although many advances in the blue forests concept have been made in the last few years, there are still many challenges associated with unlocking the values of coastal carbon and ecosystem services. These include gaps in science, a lack of working examples, and an international community that still does not fully recognize the value of these systems for climate change mitigation or adaptation.
The GEF Blue Forests Project aims to address these challenges by paving the way to coordinated on-the-ground implementation of payment for ecosystem services (PES), carbon market schemes, conservation agreements, or other mechanisms that really work for coastal ecosystems and that are based on those values.
The successful demonstration by this project of working methodologies and approaches for carbon accounting and ecosystem service valuation will enable the GEF and others to further up-scale and replicate the concepts around the world. This project represents a milestone event on how coastal ecosystem management is considered and supported.
The GEF Blue Forests Project builds on existing activities in selected countries (United Arab Emirates, Ecuador, Indonesia, Madagascar and Mozambique) to promote the blue forests concept from theory to practical application. This will be accomplished through targeted research on coastal carbon and the valuation of ecosystem services, analyses of possible policy actions, and information sharing that will help global replication of the concept.
The project objectives are to apply methodologies and approaches for carbon accounting and ecosystem service valuation in blue forests so as to provide evidence-based experience that supports replication, up-scaling and adoption of blue forests concepts by the international community and the GEF.
The project aims to:
Improve the knowledge on carbon sequestration, storage, possible greenhouse gas emissions as well as ecosystem services in blue forests ecosystems and on possible policy and economic instruments that may be applied to sustainable coastal habitat management.
Improve and replicate ecosystem management based on improved understanding of the values of blue forests ecosystems
Improve understanding of ecosystem services and carbon storage and sequestration, possible greenhouse gas emissions, sequestration and fluxes for blue forests ecosystems through targeted research and peer-reviewed literature, with a particular focus on ecosystems lacking knowledge (seagrass and salt marshes).
Improve acceptance and awareness of blue forests values, methodologies and approaches in international policy and markets related to climate change and ecosystem service valuation.