Mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, saltwater marshes – these and other ‘blue forests’ are vital to coastal and island communities around the world
Blue Forests Economic Opportunities
Blue forests support a range of nature-based economic opportunities and benefits. When healthy and sustainably managed, these ecosystems can provide revenue from fisheries, recreation, ecotourism, and carbon finance. They also protect shorelines from storms and flooding, protecting coastal property and support biodiversity and cultural heritage. Blue forests can be intrinsically connected with human well-being and the health of related ecosystems, such as coral reefs.
This graphic illustrates how blue forests can support sustainable and resilient communities through a wide range of nature-based blue economy activities. Click on each icon to learn more.
What economic opportunities can be derived from
Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM)
Coastal blue carbon can be measured and sold as carbon credits on the voluntary carbon market. Community-based blue carbon projects are emerging around the world with the potential to improve economic and environmental conditions, as in Kenya and Madagascar. For more detailed information about the VCM and carbon finance schemes, click "Learn More" below.
Community conservation agreements
Conservation agreements provide financial incentives for individual or group management of coastal ecosystems by paying for the conservation and maintenance of these areas, as in the Gulf of Guayaquil, Ecuador. For more detailed information about conservation agreements and how they can be implemented, click the "learn more" button below.
Blue forests provide provisioning services, or tangible products that can be sold at markets and used directly. Mangroves can support the production of honey like in Madagascar, while seagrass and kelp can be sustainably cultivated and sold as edible products, crafts and alternative materials.
Healthy blue forests provide nursery habitats and food for commercially valuable species of fish, crustaceans, and invertebrates. By sustainably managing coastal ecosystems, small-scale aquaculture and fishing industry livelihoods can thrive, as illustrated in Antanimanimbo and Adavadoaka, Madagascar.
One key ecosystem service derived from healthy blue forests is increased fish stocks. Like in the Gulf of Guayaquil, Ecuador, communities can fish for sustenance and increase local food security in addition to selling seafood products.
By 2030, it is estimated that marine and coastal tourism will employ 8.6 million people, making it the largest sector of the global ocean economy. Ecotourism not only offers supplemental sources of income for communities, but it can also provide incentive to preserve culturally significant nature areas as has been done in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
By creating sustainable wood lots from fast-growing tree species like Casuarina equisetifolia instead of mangrove wood, communities like those in Vanga Bay, Kenya can use and sell alternative sources of timber for fuel and building materials.
The blue forests economy in practice
Highlighting how the value of healthy blue forests can support economic opportunities around the world
Hover over each example to pause the slideshow
Blue Forests in a Bustling City
Ecotourism in Abu Dhabi, UAE
In 2016, ecotourism initiatives launched in two Abu Dhabi locations. The Mangrove National Park encompasses 19 square kilometers of mangrove forests, making it home to nearly 75% of mangrove forests in the UAE along with other blue forests such as salt marshes and algal communities. Additionally, Jubail Mangrove Park encompasses a mangrove boardwalk with 3 kilometers of walking paths.
Not only do these parks provide interactive ecotourism opportunities like birdwatching, paddle boarding, and kayaking, but these locations serve as a natural respite from city life within Abu Dhabi. Locals and tourists alike are attracted to these locations to increase their well-being through yoga classes for $23, watercolor painting sessions for $55, and guided boardwalk tours for $7 amidst the mangroves.
Beyond the protection of mangrove forests, these initiatives aim to increase environmental awareness of the vital role blue forests play in supporting biodiversity. This goal is supported by the involved organizations working with local schools to arrange visits, leading clean-up campaigns, and offering engaging educational information at both mangrove parks.
Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative, Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi