Effective climate change mitigation in the form of seagrass restoration projects

Source: Science for Environment Policy

Seagrass restoration projects could effectively mitigate climate change, capturing up to 1337 tons of CO2 per hectare after 50 years, new research suggests. If a carbon tax system was in place, the researchers add, these schemes would likely provide returns at least equal to the initial investment needed, assuming the tax was set at an appropriate level.

Seagrass meadows have high rates of carbon burial as they contain fast-growing species and can trap sediment floating in the water. Furthermore, they do not suffer from wildfires and are less susceptible to disputes over ownership, as may be the case with habitats used to capture CO2 on land. Unfortunately, seagrass meadows are declining in oceans around the world as a result of human activities, such as dredging, and excess nutrients from agriculture or sewage outfall.

In this study, partly funded by the EU projects BIOMARES1 and OPERAs2, researchers investigated the potential of seagrass restoration projects to capture CO2. They developed a mathematical model to estimate the potential carbon capture over 50 years using the growth rates of five species of seagrass: Cymodocea nodosa, Halodule wrightii, Syringodium filiforme, Zostera marina and Zostera noltii.