State government funding projects to improve blue carbon capability and knowledge

FUNDING: A saltmarsh community at Acraman Creek on Eyre Peninsula. Projects to improve South Australia's blue carbon capability and knowledge are being funded by the state government. Photo: Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board
FUNDING: A saltmarsh community at Acraman Creek on Eyre Peninsula. Projects to improve South Australia's blue carbon capability and knowledge are being funded by the state government. Photo: Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board

Almost $2 million will be invested into projects to restore coastal wetlands and improve South Australia's blue carbon capability and knowledge.

Blue carbon is the name given to coast and marine habitats that store carbon in either plants or soil.

Coastal habitats such as saltmarshes, seagrass meadows and mangrove forests can capture carbon up to 40 times faster than forests on land and if undisturbed can store large amounts, helping mitigate the impacts of climate change.

The state government said the South Australian coastline had great potential for coastal restoration to improve blue carbon shortage.

It is partnering with non-government organisations to deliver the projects which it said would drive environmental and economic benefits out of restoring coastal wetlands across the state.

A $1.2m partnership with The Nature Conservancy and COmON Foundation will restore up to 2000 hectares of wetlands across hundreds of kilometres in Gulf St Vincent and Spencer Gulf.

The Nature Conservancy partnership complements around $600,000 of partnerships with Green Adelaide, Flinders University and University of Adelaide, which will deliver four Blue Carbon Futures Fund projects to explore the value of carbon stored along Adelaide's coastline and how it can be enhanced by restoration.

Environment Minister David Speirs said the projects would see many of the state's coastal wetlands restored and blue carbon opportunities further realised.

"Blue carbon is brimming with potential and South Australia is poised to grab hold of the opportunities that it presents which is why the Marshall Liberal Government has developed a Blue Carbon Strategy and we are thrilled to be partnering with these organisations to deliver world-leading projects," he said.

"Developing blue carbon projects presents us with multiple benefits, from significant sequestration opportunities, to strengthened resilience of our precious coastline, to habitat restoration for nationally threatened species as well as new economic opportunities."

Blue carbon is currently being assessed in a project on Eyre Peninsula which is profiling saltmarshes throughout the region.

Through a gift from COmON Foundation, The Nature Conservancy project will be among the first group of coastal wetland restoration sites funded under the Commonwealth Emissions Reduction Fund's new blue carbon methodology.

It will also lead the way in establishing blue carbon as a viable carbon abatement option.

Oceans program director for The Nature Conservancy Dr Chris Gillies said the partnership would accelerate Australia's commitment to using natural solutions to reduce climate emissions and storage of carbon in coastal wetlands.

"South Australia is a leader in this area," Dr Gillies said.

"The project will also lay the foundation for leading-edge sustainable financing mechanisms for wetland protection - this includes investigating insuring nature against catastrophic events that can release carbon back into the atmosphere.

"If successful, this model could be applied globally and contribute significantly to reducing emissions worldwide."

Dr Gillies said nature-based climate solutions such as blue carbon wetland restoration could contribute up to 30 per cent of the effort needed to reduce emissions.

COmON Foundation chief executive officer John Loudon said coastal wetlands, consisting of mangroves, seagrasses and saltmarshes, absorbed and stored carbon at concentrations up to four times greater than terrestrial forests and provided countless benefits for biodiversity and local livelihoods.

"They protect coastal communities from flooding and are nursery areas which support commercial fisheries," he said.

"We are particularly excited to see the potential to restore mangrove wetlands in South Australia's unique and biodiverse gulf estuary systems."

This story Blue carbon investment to drive benefits first appeared on Port Lincoln Times.