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Blue Forests Ecosystems

Blue forests provide many valuable ecosystem services.  For example, mangrove forests provide  fish habitats, which increases food security and creates sustainable livelihoods for local communities. Mangroves also provide timber, improved water quality, protection from damaging coastal storms, shoreline stabilization, and promote cultural, recreational, and spiritual values. Seagrass beds sequester carbon and provide nursery habitat for fish. Blue forests' ecosystems sequester carbon, providing an important contribution to global climate change mitigation goals. Despite the values they provide, blue forests ecosystems are significantly threatened worldwide.

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This graphic highlights the significance of blue forests ecosystems, and how they can be measured, maintained, and restored.

Click on each icon to learn more.


What are blue forests ecosystems, and how are 
they measured, maintained, and restored?

Harnessing Blue Forests
Methodology and approach
Carbon Sequestration
Ecosystem Assessments
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What are blue forests? What is blue carbon?

Blue forests are coastal and marine ecosystems that sequester carbon and provide a multitude of ecosystem services. These services and benefits can be harnessed as nature-based solutions to  environmental challenges and support a sustainable blue economy. 

Blue carbon refers to the carbon stored in the biomass and sediments of blue forests. Click the "learn more" button below to explore the fundamentals of blue forests.

Can blue forests sequester carbon?

A critical benefit and value that communities can harness from blue forests is coastal blue carbon, which is the carbon stored in the biomass and sediments of marine ecosystems such as mangrove forests, seagrass meadows and saltwater marshes. These ecosystems can sequester and store more carbon per unit area than many terrestrial forests, thereby their conservation and restoration can play a vital role in meeting global goals towards mitigation of climate change .

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What methodologies and approaches are used to measure blue carbon?

Coastal blue carbon methods were developed and advanced for assessing carbon stocks and emission factors in mangroves, tidal salt marshes, and seagrass meadows. Standard methods were developed for field measurement and analysis of blue carbon stocks and flux in these environments. For more detailed information on existing blue carbon methodologies and approaches, click "learn more" below.

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What are ecosystem assessments?

The valuation of ecosystem services is a way of evaluating what society is willing to trade off to conserve a particular ecosystem service by either quantitatively or qualitatively assessing its value. Harnessing the value of blue forests ecosystems often begins with data gap analysis to increase the understanding of the threats and benefits these ecosystems provide in a particular location.

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How do blue forests support biodiversity?

Healthy blue forests provide key ecosystem services that support coastal biodiversity. These provisions include: nursery habitats for fish, shellfish, invertebrates, and other marine and terrestrial species; filtration of pollutants and excess nutrients in coastal waters; and feeding grounds for migratory birds and fish species​. When multiple blue forests grow together within the same area, these ecological functions can be even more impactful, often increasing the richness of biodiversity and abundance of fish along coastlines.

Mangrove ecosystems, for example, are some of the most productive and biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet. They serve as important habitats for fish, sharks, manatees, crabs and other important species. In Ecuador, Conservation International aims to work more specifically with two crab harvesting associations and fishermen living inside El Morro Wildlife reserve in the implementation of alternatives to reduce over-harvesting of mangrove resources, while ensuring access and a good distribution of economic benefits from mangroves management. 

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How can blue forests be restored?

Restoration, or the act of bringing an ecosystem back into, as nearly as possible, its original condition, can be used as a tool to return lost forest in order to achieve the objectives of sustainable mangrove management and can be necessary when a forest can no longer self-renew. Techniques for blue forests restoration depend on site characteristics such as soil depth, availability of propagules,  and pressure from humans and other forces on the forest. Though plantation productivity has been shown to decline with age, given the chance, restored mangroves, for example, may develop into mature forests with many of the structural and functional characteristics of mature mangrove systems. In Kenya, low diversity mangrove planting has given way to higher diversity forests, provided the reforested area is not harvested.

360 English Benefits of Mangroves
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Ecosystem benefits from mangroves