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NewsAbu Dhabi Champions Nature-based Climate Change Mitigation
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January 12, 2013
Abu Dhabi Champions Nature-based Climate Change Mitigation

The Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI), supported by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) recently launched a pioneering ‘Blue Carbon’ project that connects the local natural coastal ecosystem management with climate change mitigation.  

Blue Carbon coastal ecosystems include mangrove forests, seagrass meadows and saltwater marshlands, which serve as carbon sinks. These Blue Carbon ecosystems continuously store and sequester carbon at rates much faster than tropical forests. Some healthy coastal marine ecosystems play roles in storing greenhouse gases, thereby helping to mitigate climate change.  The Abu Dhabi Blue Carbon Demonstration project draws together an international team of coastal carbon experts to investigate the critical role our local coastal ecosystems play in climate change and climate change mitigation.

The project aims to assess the carbon and ecosystem services of Abu Dhabi’s coastal habitats, gain an understanding of their geographic extent and assess blue carbon in a climate and policy framework for the development of potential mitigation initiatives in the UAE. In addition, the outcomes hope to provide improved management options for the preservation and restoration of the coastal ecosystems. These coastal ecosystems include mangrove forests, sea grass meadows, saltwater marshlands and coastal sabkha. All of which serve as carbon sinks. 

Mangroves are an important part of the UAE’s natural ecosystem and have been planted in many locations throughout the UAE since the 1970’s. “Mangroves, along with the coastal ecosystem is key to maintain and improved sustainability of our Emirate. The Abu Dhabi Blue Carbon Demonstration Project is an invaluable initiative, not only for the duration of the project but beyond. The experience and knowledge gained from this local project will help pave the way for other national blue carbon projects and international efforts for a greener economy and natural climate change mitigation,” H.E Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General, EAD. 

Blue Carbon is not a new concept to the UAE. AGEDI’s first exploration for natural climate change mitigation opportunities commenced in 2011 with the completion of the Blue Carbon Feasibility Study of the Arabian Peninsula. The outcomes from this study flagged further opportunities for investigating improved management and mitigating climate change options for Blue Carbon in the Arab region. It is from this study that further developments have been acted upon. 

The importance of the issue was also highlighted at the Eye on Earth Summit 2011, where one of the eight Special Initiatives to be endorsed was the Eye on Oceans & Blue Carbon Special Initiative.  This unique initiative aims to bridge the gap on the global access of oceans & blue

carbon data and information with a long term vision of a standardised method of assessing and evaluating coastal ecosystems.

This project is affiliated with the Eye on Oceans & Blue Carbon global initiative.  The methods applied for this Abu Dhabi project consist of concrete applications of Blue Carbon and coastal ecosystem services resources that have yet to be applied elsewhere. These applications provide us with options on how to value and incentivise for sustainable coastal conservation. It is hoped this application will provide decision makers with the prospect to assess and manage blue carbon resources in other regions of the world.

Through the knowledge and experiences gained from this project, Abu Dhabi aims to provide global leadership in understanding and incentivising linkages between coastal management and climate change around the world as countries move towards greening their economies.

Throughout the project, a wide range of stakeholders will be engaged for their input. Their participation is valuable asset to the outcomes and success of the project.  Next week the project will commence the first of its field work, collecting samples and ground-truthing various coastal sites in the Abu Dhabi emirate.

The Abu Dhabi Demonstration project is facilitated by AGEDI and supported by an expert team from GRID-Arendal, UNEP, WCMC, Forest Trends, and a world class team of coastal carbon scientists. For further information, email bcdemonstration@ead.ae  or visit www.agedi.ae

More Information on Blue Carbon Ecosystems

  • Blue Carbon coastal ecosystems include mangrove forests, seagrass meadows and saltwater marshlands, which serve as carbon sinks.  

  • Blue Carbon ecosystems are found throughout the globe, in all continents except for the Antarctic. Vital to the livelihoods and wellbeing of many coastal communities these ecosystems however face many threats and are being lost at an alarming rate. 

  • These coastal habitats are an extremely valuable asset to the UAE ,  providing a wide range of ecosystem services such as protection of shorelines (from storms or erosion); a range of natural products (wood, honey, medicine); ecotourism activities (birding, kayaking, wildlife viewing); support for fisheries including nurseries for juvenile fish; and improvement of water quality through sediment filtering.

However, they are disappearing globally at an alarming rate of 1 to 2 per cent per year, a pace that exceeds the loss of adjacent ecosystems, tropical rainforests and coral reefs. The main causes for the rapid loss of mangrove forests globally include coastal development, population growth, water diversion and aquaculture.

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