Planning for the future of blue carbon ecosystems across the Western Port region

The Western Port Biosphere Foundation has secured $700,000 from the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action to protect, restore, and plan for the future of blue carbon ecosystems across the Western Port region and a further $500,000 to partner with Bunurong Land Council and the land and conservation Bushbank Team, to work across coastal wetlands to restore and protect these vital ecosystems. Click here to see the ministerial press release on August 9th about the project.

With 24% of Victoria’s coastal wetlands, the Western Port UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve region can and could help fight climate change thanks to its wealth of carbon-absorbing marine habitats.

Blue carbon ecosystems include mangroves, tidal and salt marshes, and seagrasses, which are the foundation of highly productive coastal ecosystems particularly important for their capacity to store carbon within the plants and in the sediments below. This makes them a key component of nature-based solutions to climate change.

Building on the Blue Carbon Opportunities mapping project the Foundation worked with the Blue Carbon Lab on in 2022/23 and the partnerships fostered with member councils of the South East Councils Climate Change Alliance (SECCCA), the 2023/24 project, funded through DEECA, aims to build further connections with stakeholders around Western Port, to design a series of management plans to plan for the future protection and restoration of blue carbon sites, and to carry out on-ground works and monitoring around the bay.

The Blue Carbon Lab mapping project used historical data and spatial mapping to determine the distribution of blue carbon habitat across Western Port and changes and losses over time attributable to human impact.

For more information, please visit the Blue Carbon StoryMap, which summarises the key findings.

This information offers a foundation for the direction of the Blue Carbon Planning project 2023/24, but key to success is collaboration between stakeholders and experts across Western Port to work together to identify the most valuable sites for management plans, on-ground works, and monitoring.

On May 24th, 2023, the Biosphere Foundation hosted the project inception meeting online, inviting stakeholders across Western Port and a range of sectors. Click here to view the presentation.

A worldwide effort to protect and enhance blue carbon ecosystems and secure their carbon offsetting benefits would have the potential to be a key part of mitigation against the worst climate change scenarios, including removing carbon from the atmosphere, and helping reduce flood risk and erosion from sea level rise and increasing severity and frequency of storms. So, join us as we delve further into the wonderful world of blue carbon through 2023/24. We hope that by learning about the potential of these ecosystems you will be inspired to protect them and perhaps carbon offset when you travel or join one of the initiatives to restore these habitats around the bays.

For information about Western Port’s mangroves click on the YouTube link to watch the Blue Carbon Lab explain more.

Planning for the future of blue carbon in Western Port:

On July 26th, 2023, we celebrated World Mangrove Day by hosting the first Stakeholder Working Group meeting for the project. The aim was to bring together all interested parties and experts in blue carbon from around Western Port and hold a workshop to begin to gather information about everything that needs to be addressed in the blue carbon management planning process. Click here to view the presentation.

We are fortunate to be partnering with marine consulting and research firm, Fathom Pacific, to help create the assessment framework for the blue carbon management plans. Dr Adrian Flynn joined us on the day and delivered a fascinating presentation about some of the ecological and biological drivers in Western Port and best practice in environmental impact assessment and biomonitoring. Adrian is going to help design templates for the blue carbon management plans, carry out site assessments, collect and analyse data. Click here to view his presentation.




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