Mangroves Seychelles’ blue carbon eco-system |01 October 2022
It is estimated that around 850,000 tonnes of organic carbon equivalent to 3 million tonnes of carbon (CO2) is stored in our country’s blue carbon eco-system ‒ the mangrove forest.
The stored carbon estimation came as a result of a study dubbed the ‘Blue Carbon Project’, to drive the local scale data of mangrove carbon stock in the above biomass (plants) and in the soil on the islands of Mahé, Praslin, La Digue, Silhouette, Curieuse, North Island (on which no mangrove was found), Aldabra and Cosmoledo.
The study which started in late 2020 was funded by the World Bank, under the Third South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Governance and Shared Growth Project (SWIOFish3).
The blue carbon eco-systems, which apart from the mangrove include the sea grass among others plants, protect coastal communities from harmful impacts of rising sea level and flooding, provide important habitats for marine life as well as additional benefits such as healthier fisheries, water purification and improved livelihoods.
Environment stakeholders in the country yesterday met at the Savoy Seychelles Resort & Spa, Beau Vallon, to validate the preliminary findings of our blue carbon eco-system and during the presentations, facilitator Dr Micheli Costa, from the Blue Carbon Lab (Deakin University, Australia) said the carbon stock, the majority of which is located in Aldabra where most of our country’s mangroves (78%) are located, although not high globally, is quite significant for our country to continue to keep it in the soil and in the biomass by not destroying the mangrove habitat as they play a vital role in the fight against climate change.
Dr Costa said our country produces 14 tonnes of carbon annually and the mangrove act as the blue carbon eco-system, trapped 70% of that carbon in the soil where it is stored for a long period of time, while 30% stored in the plants and the mangroves play a significant role in the storage.
She noted that if we continue to destroy the mangrove ecosystems, all of the stored carbon which has been trapped will be released back into the atmosphere and it can be catastrophic to live on earth.
The field work on the inner and outer islands which involved soils samplings and field measurements and mappings took five months to complete. It was done by a local team led by the project’s local consultant, Dr Barry Nourrice.
Based on the study, mangroves on the outer islands are in a much better state than those on the inner islands from the impact of developments that have taken place along the coasts.
In opening the workshop, Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment, Flavien Joubert, said benefits from the mangrove ecosystems have been overlooked and many mangrove habitation have been destroyed and are still being destroyed at an alarming rate of which greater impacts are being felt by small islands and coastal areas.
Minister Joubert stated that protecting these habitats need to be an integral part of the global response to climate change which calls for actions on many levels.
He noted that the country in collaboration with key partners, are engaged at the scientific and policy levels with a vision to protect, manage or restore these blue carbon ecosystems, thus addressing the climate change issues.
He added that work should continue for the long-term protection and management of these fragile ecosystems.
Inputs from stakeholders taken in the validation of the study will be compiled by Deakin University and later presented to government and other environmental bodies.
In the meantime, locals are being advised to protect and restore the blue carbon eco-systems like the mangrove habitats around the country as they offset carbon emission, extreme environmental events and mitigate climate change.
The blue carbon project coordinator Dr Melissa Wartman from Deakin University and project local consultant, Dr Nourrice were also facilitators of the workshop.
Text & photos by Patrick Joubert