Mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, saltwater marshes – these and other ‘blue forests’ are vital to coastal and island communities around the world
Blue Forests Policy and Management Approaches
Healthy blue forests require sustainable and effective management and policies. Blue forests policies refer to a suite of sustainable policy, management and planning activities in coastal ecosystems that help to conserve and restore them while supporting the multiple ecosystem benefits they provide, including functioning as carbon sinks.
A range of different policy and management strategies are needed at multiple scales, including the local and community level, national level, and in international commitments.
Blue forests policy and management
The participation of local communities and stakeholders is key to successful conservation and management of blue forests. Ensuring that local people are involved in conducting blue forests restoration and protection activities and that they benefit from the utilization of blue forests resources is important to sustainable policy outcomes. Options to enhance local blue forests policies include support to help organize local communities, strengthen their capacity to implement, monitor and report on blue forests management activities, and building and sustaining organizational structures for natural resource management.
Closing the gap between blue forest’ conservation policies and action is crucial to the improved protection and management of these important coastal ecosystems and to the livelihoods that depend on them. The fate of blue forests ecosystems is often determined by national-level policy decisions, including the success or failure to enforce protective measures. A range of national level policy and management options are available to help conserve and manage blue forests ecosystems for the future, these include incorporating the value of ecosystem services into national ecosystem management plans, penalties for the destruction of blue forests habitat, and other options.
The importance of mangroves and the threats to their persistence have long been recognized, leading to multiple international conventions and programs that protect blue forests habitats and recognize the benefits they support. These include coordinated action to protect wetlands (e.g., RAMSAR), how the conservation and restoration of coastal blue carbon ecosystems can contribute to countries’ commitments to achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement (e.g., NDCs and NAMAs) and in REDD+ schemes, potentially providing novel strategies for blue forests conservation in countries that lack sufficient resources for conservation and management.