Research Summary: Restoring Coastal Plants to Improve Global Carbon Storage: Reaping What We Sow


Long-term carbon capture and storage (CCS) is currently considered a viable strategy for mitigating rising levels of atmospheric CO2 and associated impacts of global climate change. Until recently, the significant below-ground CCS capacity of coastal vegetation such as seagrasses, salt marshes, and mangroves has largely gone unrecognized in models of global carbon transfer. However, this reservoir of natural, free, and sustainable carbon storage potential is increasingly jeopardized by alarming trends in coastal habitat loss, totalling 30–50% of global abundance over the last century alone. Human intervention to restore lost habitats is a potentially powerful solution to improve natural rates of global CCS, but data suggest this approach is unlikely to substantially improve long-term CCS unless current restoration efforts are increased to an industrial scale. Failure to do so raises the question of whether resources currently used for expensive and time-consuming restoration projects would be more wisely invested in arresting further habitat loss and encouraging natural recovery.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 29-March-2011

Author(s): Irving A., Connell S., Russell B.


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