Discover Mangroves: The ecosystems stocking 3–5 times more carbon than rainforests
The possibility of capturing almost 30 million metric tons of CO2 per year is staring us in the face: it’s through the valuable blue carbon sinks known as mangroves!
The Protective Power of Mangroves
For centuries, from the Bengali coast to the Maldives, folktales about the protective qualities of mangroves gave hope to villagers struggling to make a living. On the ocean side, mangroves protected the communities from dangers tsunamis, cyclone and hurricane storm surges. On the land side, villagers could hide from natural predators, extreme heat, or unfriendly invaders in the marshes and swamps.
In the scientific community, these ecosystems are sometimes considered to be the nurseries and guardians of coastal biodiversity. They are estimated to be worth at least US$1.6 billion each year in ecosystem services that support coastal livelihoods and human populations around the world¹. And to top it all off, if you ask the climate community, they are excellent climate mitigation tools: they’re blue carbon sinks.
Mangroves as a Blue Carbon Sink
Mangroves are a type of tropical and sub-tropical coastal ecosystem typically found between 25° N and 25° S latitude: in Asia, South America, Africa and the Pacific. These forests can be different species of tree, but they all love brackish or salty water.
According to the Smithsonian Ocean project, mangrove forests can stock between 50 metric tonnes up to 220 metric tons of CO2 per acre². That’s the emissions equivalent of about 35 French residents annually!
The majority of the carbon stored by mangrove forests and ecosystems is actually stored in the soil. Unlike in forests, where carbon is stored in trees as a result of photosynthesis, when carbon is stored in the soil, it is transferred to the soil during both through root growth and the decomposition process.
As roots grow further down, they exhale carbon into the soil. And when any organic material (including roots) dies in the mangrove, it decays. The warmer temperatures of the regions where mangroves thrive speed up this process. Some of the decaying material becomes humus, and then eventually becomes soil. Both humus and other layers of soil store carbon.
Although there are still some risks associated with storing carbon in soil, it is objectively more secure than storing carbon in a forest. Soil texture plays a role in how much carbon can be stocked: soils in healthy mangroves are extremely dense, approaching thick, peat-like soil. And some estimates suggest mangroves can stock up to 3–5 times more carbon than rainforests!³
And if CarbonABLE helped mangroves reach their climate potential?
At CarbonABLE, our mission is to finance carbon sinks all over the world, including mangroves as a tool to fight the climate crisis. If you’re a CarbonABLE NFT holder, you may find yourself interested in investing to support a mangrove project. Financing mangroves protection and restoration is just one of the ways we’re using DeFi for good.