Most people are aware that forests have a function as a carbon storage. Forest land conversion and deforestation can emit carbon into the earth’s atmosphere and cause greenhouse gases (GHG) in the earth’s atmosphere become denser. That is why climate change mitigation activities are focused on efforts to conserve forest area.
However, there is another carbon storage besides forest. Coastal ecosystem, including mangroves, marine plants (seagrass), and swamps are no less important in climate change mitigation efforts than forest.
Naturally, coastal ecosystem absorb carbon from the atmosphere and oceans and store it. The carbon stored in coastal ecosystem is known as blue carbon. According to Tempo.co, blue carbon itself is carbon captured and stored in oceans and coastal ecosystem, including coastal carbon stored in tidal wetlands, such as mangroves, tidal marshes, and seagrass beds. In soil, biomass lives and non-biomass can’t live.
As the name suggests, this carbon has a blue color. Blue carbon is considered important because coastal ecosystem is an effective carbon sink. Blue carbon can play a major role in meeting national and global targets on climate change.
A research found that the coastal ecosystem is also a greenhouse gas absorber. Coastal ecosystems are believed to be able to absorb and store carbon a hundred times more and more permanently than forests on land. The carbon absorbed by coastal ecosystems is no less large than forests.
In contrast to terrestrial ecosystems which tend not to increase at a certain time, coastal ecosystems can absorb and store carbon in sediments continuously over a long time.
About 50-99 percent of the carbon absorbed by coastal ecosystems is stored below the soil at a depth of 6 meters below the ground surface. This stored carbon can be stored for thousands of years. Because of this great potential, coastal ecosystems can play many roles as solutions for adaptation and mitigating the impacts of climate change.
In addition to its carbon storage benefits, the ecosystem’s blue carbon also provides employment and income for the local economy, improves water quality, supports healthy fisheries, and provides coastal protection.
Mangroves act as a natural barrier by stabilizing shorelines and reducing wave energy to reduce flood risk for coastal communities from storm surges and sea-level rise. Seagrass beds trap suspended sediment in their roots which increases light attenuation, improve water quality, and reduces erosion. Coastal wetlands absorb pollutants (eg, heavy metals, nutrients, suspended matter) helping to maintain water quality and prevent eutrophication.
There are several steps we can take to protect the ecosystem blue carbon:
Taking care of coastal ecosystem better helps us cope with climate change, as it serves as a habitat for the diversity of marine biota such as shrimp, fish, crabs, and so on.
When we take care of mangroves, its roots can filter water from dirt and pollutants to produce healthy water for surrounding vegetation. Mangroves are also capable as a shoreline stabilizer because they can prevent erosion by waves and bind mud carried by river flows. Protecting mangroves also becomes part of the steps to implement sustainable consumption and production that will have a long-term impact on us and our future generations.
Written by: Yohanna Christiani
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