Oceans contribute a whopping $1.5 trillion to the global economy. It is known to support the livelihood of about 10-12 % of the world population. Besides these overwhelming statistics being the major reason to save marine ecosystems from deterioration, it is proving essential by the day to curb climate fluctuations.
Climate scientists consider oceans to be a strategic base that reserves the potential to help saving the planet from the ever amplifying impacts of global warming and climate change. Also termed as ‘blue carbon’ ecosystem, the presence of mangroves, kelp and sea grass helps in sequestering carbon dioxide way higher on per area basis than boreal, temperate or tropical forests. They are well adept at retaining carbon stored in their soil and biomass. Often considered to be saviors, these protect coastal communities and establishments from the wrath of extreme weather events.
Mangroves- found in about 123 countries worldwide, cover around 1,50,000 square kilometers globally. They offer robust defense against storms and high tides, extending support to coastal communities.
In case global citizens coin a way to save at least half a percentage of coastal wetland loss every year, emissions are expected to reduce by over 0.23 gigatonnes as per climate experts. In fact if the protection measures of 1990 is replicated, carbon sequestration can be increased up to 160 megatonnes per annum- thus countering the burning of over 77.4 million tones of coal.
The growing consciousness to save oceans stems from the UN ocean conference held in June 2017. 53 commonwealth member countries came together to coin remedies against global warming and climate change that is increasingly posing a threat to coral reefs, mangroves and both small and large marine creatures over years now.
Ranging from the upcoming G7 meet, substantial steps towards UN negotiations for ocean conservation september onwards to Blue Economy Conference being hosted by Kenya in November is meticulously lined up to cater to similar concerns. Each and every initiation points at a rapidly change environment that demands prompt action to help sustainability prevail.
Unfortunately, in spite of an enlightened intelligentsia, the idea of protecting marine ecosystem remains underrepresented in several key conferences and treaties termed as Nationally Determined contributions (NDC).
The policy alternatives that bring blue carbon ecosystems into the ambit of of NDCs include:
. Defense of such ecosystems incorporate setting up of buffer zones to help reduce the impact from peripheral land use and enabling mangroves to expand their stretch inland to combat rise in sea level.
. Reforestation and rehabilitation of blue carbon ecosystems has to taken up with urgency
. Incentivizing the act of preventing blue carbon stretches from being degraded by ensuring access to carbon markets.
. Taking cognizance of the potential of such ecosystem and include them in the national greenhouse gas inventories.
Besides restoring health to the blue carbon ecosystems against raging impact of climate change, we also need to understand their contribution in strengthening coastal communities. By saving the population against unpredictable climate hazards, improving resilience against flooding and erosion as well as ensuring food security, these ecosystems help protect biodiversity.