Blue Carbon Roadmap: Towards capitalising Seychelles’ rich blue carbon potential |27 September 2022
The Seychelles Blue Carbon Roadmap, an important report setting a long-term path to establish evidence-based programme geared towards the protection and restoration of blue carbon ecosystems for climate change mitigation and adaption was yesterday remitted to government.
The roadmap, developed by the James Michel Foundation in collaboration with Deakin University, Australia, was funded under the Blue Grants Fund 3 (BGF3), administered by the Seychelles Climate Change and Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT).
As part of the updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) Seychelles pledged to protect at least 50 percent of its sea grasses and mangroves by 2025 as an effective natural climate solution to reduce 26.4 percent of the national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030, to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
As per the chief executive of the James Michel Foundation, Debbie Monthy, the Blue Carbon roadmap is a framework that will help Seychelles to achieve such commitments, and to work towards future ones.
“It is a necessary and strategic investment into understanding Seychelles’ Blue Carbon future and will feed into a much larger, multiyear series of programmes that will set the agenda to establish a Blue Carbon market in Seychelles, and allow Seychelles to establish their long-term monitoring programme for seagrass and mangrove ecosystems,” she said.
“This roadmap will promote further blue carbon research in the region, help to mitigate climate change through blue carbon management strategies, ensure enhancement of our natural capital through restoration and protection of Seychelles’ coasts, seed new environmental markets, while also contributing to jobs, coastal resilience, economic growth, and community wellbeing,” Ms Monthy stated.
The roadmap is the final deliverable of the project. Prior to the completion of the roadmap, a literature review on Blue Carbon research in the tropical Western Indian Ocean was completed and submitted to SeyCCAT which revealed that the region is a blue carbon hotspot with significant carbon stocks being stored in its diverse and extensive coastal ecosystems of mangroves, forests and sea grass meadows.
The team behind the report and accompanying appendices comprise chief scientific advisor to the James Michel Foundation Dr Ameer Ebrahim, and Dr Maria Palacios, Dr Melissa Wartman and Dr Micheli Costa of the Deakin’s University Blue Carbon lab.
Accepting a copy of the report, the Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment (MACCE), Flavien Joubert, said it is a big step forward for Seychelles, towards achieving targets relating to climate change.
The minister proposed that a Climate Council, a longstanding promise which still remains unresolved, is set up at the soonest, as well as elaborating the current climate strategy. The establishment of a climate laboratory, similar to that of Deakin’s University, to allow for collaboration and cooperation between local and international scientists is something which Seychelles should also aspire for, he added.
“As a country which is potentially threatened more by climate, we have to make sure that we are helping the whole world to stay on course. We want to see real emission-reduction and, real climate positive actions,” Minister Joubert stated.
Blue carbon ecosystems are one of the world’s most effective carbon sinks, helping to offset carbon emissions and mitigate climate change. They can capture carbon up to four times faster than terrestrial forests and store it in the underlying soils over millennial timescales.
Within the Seychelles, blue carbon ecosystems cover over two million hectares, with seagrass beds accounting for 99 percent of the blue carbon extent. The report indicates that at present, Seychelles’ mangroves store an estimated 811,000 tonnes of organic carbon, while seagrass beds hold approximately 250 million tonnes of organic carbon.
The Blue Carbon Roadmap sets out a number of actions towards safeguarding these important ecosystems for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
To achieve these ambitious targets and effectively capitalise on all its blue carbon potential, Seychelles must strategically advance its research, engage its community, and permeate its legal frameworks with blue carbon. Additionally, financial incentives for blue carbon conservation and restoration should be
established through international voluntary carbon markets and other environmental financing mechanisms, the scientists remarked.
Also present for the presentation was chief executive of SeycCCAT, Marie-May Jeremie, and Professor Dennis Hardy of the University of Seychelles (UniSey).