If you live in Florida or any coastal area for that matter, you probably know that mangroves are important to the local ecosystem and for coastline stabilization. But did you know that mangroves are important to combat climate change as a carbon sink too?
Most scientists agree that carbon dioxide and atmospheric gases emitted by human activity are responsible for changing the world’s climate in adverse ways. Our ocean and coasts provide a natural way of reducing the impact of greenhouse gases on our atmosphere, through sequestration, or storage of carbon dioxide.
The coastal ecosystems of sea grasses, salt marshes, and mangroves capture and hold large stores of carbon deposited by vegetation and various natural processes over centuries of time in large carbon sinks referred to as “blue carbon.” These ecosystems sequester and store more carbon per unit area than terrestrial forests, and at a faster rate, and can do so for millions of years. The ability of these coastal ecosystems to remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere faster and longer than forests makes them significant for their role in mitigating climate change.
Coastal habitats, including the Everglades, account for only 2% of total ocean and waterways coverage of Earth. Despite their relatively small area of coverage, coastal habitats account for nearly half of the total carbon sequestered by the ocean and waterways!
Coastal habitat conservation is important to maintain the “blue carbon” sink and an important component of climate change mitigation too. When coastal ecosystems are damaged, an enormous amount of carbon is release back into the atmosphere. Conversely, new and restored coastal habitats help to capture more carbon from the atmosphere. So, protecting and restoring coastal habitats is a great way to mitigate climate change.
When we protect and establish coastal habitats, we also provide other health benefits to people and the environment, such as recreational opportunities, storm surge protection, and protective habitat for fish, birds, and animals.
Everyone can help protect coastal habitats and improve blue carbon sinks to mitigate climate change. Whether by planting mangroves, cleaning up trash, supporting environmental protection organizations, or helping to spread awareness of environmental issues, you can help our planet and make a difference.
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