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Environment Magazine September/October 2008

November-December 2013

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Blue Carbon: Coastal Ecosystems, Their Carbon Storage, and Potential for Reducing Emissions

Coastal ecosystems support a wide range of ecological services, for example, by providing primary nursery habitat for many species of fish, crustaceans, birds, and marine mammals.1 Coastal ecosystems also serve as natural barriers to control storm damage, other natural hazards, and coastal erosion.2 Besides these long-recognized ecological and economic benefits, coastal ecosystems are becoming touted for their considerable capacity to store and sequester carbon. “Blue carbon” is shorthand for the carbon found in coastal systems, especially in mangroves, seagrasses, and salt marshes.3 Mangroves, salt marshes, and seagrasses are spread across the globe, albeit concentrated in the tropics, and at least one of the three can be found in almost every country that has a coastline.4

Juha Siikamäki is a fellow and associate research director at Resources for the Future (RFF).

James N. Sanchirico is a professor at the Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California at Davis, and a nonresident fellow at RFF.

Sunny Jardine is an assistant professor at the University of Delaware.

David McLaughlin was a senior research assistant at RFF during this research.

Daniel Morris is a program fellow at the Center for Climate Policy and Economics, RFF.


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