Marine Conservation Society and Rewilding Britain Release New 'Blue Carbon' Report

mcs blue carbon title

The importance to the environment of seagrass meadows and other marine plants is often overlooked (Photo: Mark Kirkland/MCSUK)

The Marine Conservation Society has released a new report in partnership with Rewilding Britain which outlines the importance of the UK’s seas in helping the UK to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

It is hoped that the report, entitled Blue Carbon – Ocean-based solutions to fight the climate crisis will persuade politicians and the public alike that 'rewilding' the ocean's ecosystems will aid in the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to be stored in 'natural solutions', a process becoming known as 'blue carbon'

The role of the world's forests in carbon sequestration has been well established for some time, however, the marine equivalents of seagrass meadows, mangroves and other oceanic plant life such as seaweed are often overlooked. Nevertheless, marine plant life processes and stores carbon dioxide through the same photosynthetic process as to plants and trees on land. The carbon stored in the plant matter, the seafloor sediment and animals which inhabit the marine environment is the foundation for blue carbon

'Carbon contained in marine and coastal ecosystems must be considered in the same way as our woodlands and peatbogs [and is] critical to the UK’s carbon strategy,' said Dr Chris Tuckett, Director of Programmes at the Marine Conservation Society 'Our report outlines how vital blue carbon solutions are to an effective strategy which reaches net-zero by 2050.

'We’re calling on the UK Government and devolved administrations to act with urgency to invest in, co-develop and implement a four-nation Blue Carbon Strategy,' said Dr Tuckett.

mcs blue carbon whales

Marine mammals are a huge store of 'blue carbon' (Photo: Shutterstock)

The suggested strategy focuses on three key action areas:

  • Scaling up marine rewilding for biodiversity and blue carbon benefits
  • Integrating blue carbon protection and recovery into climate mitigation and environmental management policies
  • Working with the private sector to develop and support sustainable and innovative low-carbon commercial fisheries and aquaculture.

The report projects that globally, the rewilding of 'key blue carbon securing marine and coastal ecosystems' could sequester up to 1.83 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide - approximately 5 per cent of the global total required to reach net zero. This figure does not include the amount of carbon stored in fish and other marine life or in coral reefs and seabed sediments, which would mean the overall total of sequestered carbon through rewilding could be much greater.

'We’re calling for the rewilding and protection of at least 30% of Britain’s seas by 2030,' said Rebecca Wrigley, Rewilding Britain’s Chief Executive. 'Allowing a rich rainbow of underwater habitats and their sealife to recover offers huge opportunities for tackling the nature and climate crises, and for benefiting people’s livelihoods. Combined with the exclusion of bottom towed trawling and dredging, such initiatives offer hope and a blueprint for bringing our precious seas back to health.'

Blue Carbon – Ocean-based solutions to fight the climate crisis, is available to read on the Marine Conservation Society’s website.


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