Blue Carbon is the carbon stored in coastal and marine ecosystems.
Blue Carbon is the carbon stored in coastal and marine ecosystems. Tourism and Events Queensland

New weapon in the fight to save the Great Barrier Reef

SCIENTISTS will soon begin mapping Queensland's blue carbon resources in search of a new weapon in the fight to help save the Great Barrier Reef.

Deakin University's Peter Macreadie, Director of the university's Blue Carbon Lab, said the ground-breaking project would reveal for the first time the full scale of the state's blue carbon farming opportunities.

"The project will identify how many tonnes of CO2 could be offset each year by coastal blue carbon systems and where along the Great Barrier Reef catchment area those opportunities exist,” the Marine Science Associate Professor said.

"A key output of the project will be the 'Blue Carbon Restoration Heat Map 1.0', a user-friendly map of Queensland's land area that shows where carbon farming opportunities are located.”

Manta rays at Lady Elliot Island at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef
Manta rays at Lady Elliot Island at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef Contributed

Blue Carbon is the carbon stored in coastal and marine ecosystems.

When protected or restored, blue carbon ecosystems can offset carbon emissions and fight climate change by capturing and storing carbon.

When degraded or destroyed, these ecosystems emit the carbon stored for centuries back into the atmosphere and oceans, becoming sources of greenhouse gases.

"As well as helping mitigate climate change, coastal wetlands - such as mangrove forests and tidal marshes - are champions when it comes to catching sediment runoff and improving water quality for the reef itself,” Associate Professor Macreadie said.

Deakin's Blue Carbon Lab is an award-winning, multi-disciplinary research team focused on understanding and responding to impacts of global change on freshwater, coastal and ocean ecosystems.

The Queensland Government's Land Restoration Fund has funded this project.

Manta rays on the Great Barrier Reef
Manta rays on the Great Barrier Reef Contributed

Associate Professor Macreadie said the new project would work to build understanding of Queensland's blue carbon future, feeding into a much larger, multi-year series of programs that would help expand carbon farming in Queensland through the development of a blue carbon market.

"This project will help put Queensland at the forefront of international efforts to incorporate coastal carbon within CO2 mitigation strategies, helping to mitigate climate change, while improving water quality, enhancing natural capital, and contributing to jobs and economic growth,” he said.

"Importantly, it will provide new societal and financial impetus for restoration and protection of Queensland's coasts, seeding new environmental markets and ensuring a legacy of optimal management of coastal ecosystems.

"The work is timely given Queensland's blue carbon ecosystems have declined dramatically as a result of coastal development, and face added pressures with future climate change, including sea level rise. 

"Research outputs will help Queensland better protect and manage threatened coastal systems by providing predictive models of how much Blue Carbon could exist in the future under different management scenarios.”



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