New research from the University of York reveals that seagrass ecosystems could play a key role in combating climate change, but first we need to stop populations from declining.
Seagrass habitats, which sustain marine life like turtles and dugongs, and help protect shorelines from damaging waves and erosion, are experiencing “rapid global decline.” Much of the decline is due to human disturbance — seagrasses are particularly vulnerable to human disturbance because they thrive in shallow coastal areas.
Currently, 24 percent of seagrass species are classified as threatened or near threatened, yet, according to the University of York, there are no functioning seagrass restoration or conservation projects underway.
Because seagrass meadows can store large amounts of carbon, researchers say this lack of effort represents “both a serious oversight and a major missed opportunity.”
“Seagrass meadows could play a vital role in combating climate change as they are regarded as a net global sink for carbon,” PhD student and lead author Adam Hejnowicz explained in a news release. They can bury significant amounts of carbon beneath the seafloor.
The main problem, Hejnowicz said, “is that seagrasses are still not properly and adequately accounted for in formal carbon climate policies.”
The researchers are urging the international community to acknowledge the potential of seagrass in combating climate change and advocating for incentive-based carbon management.
To learn more:
- Read the full news release: International community urged to realise the true potential of seagrass in combating climate change.
- Read the study abstract: Harnessing the climate mitigation, conservation and poverty alleviation potential of seagrasses: prospects for developing blue carbon initiatives and payment for ecosystem service programmes.
Copyright © 2015 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.