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Blue Carbon – protecting what we have now

March 21, 2024

Stephen Brend- Project Science Officer

Lang Lang erosion, March 2024

Friends of the Foundation will know that we have been investing a lot of time and energy into studying Blue Carbon; this is carbon trapped in the plants and sediments of coastal ecosystems, particularly salt marshes, mangroves and seagrass meadows.  There are ways that we can boost the amount of carbon sequestered, or locked up, by these ecosystems, for instance, by planting mangroves to speed up natural regeneration, or allowing pasture to revert to salt marsh, be excluding cattle and other livestock.  These are important strategies – by expanding the natural habitat not only is more carbon stored but it also secures the ecosystem services provided by the coastal ecosystems.  However, the Biosphere Foundation is now focusing on another, equally pressing aspect of the Blue Carbon puzzle: how to stop the loss of what we have now. 

Lang Lang erosion March 2024

Erosion is a major concern along the coast of eastern Western Port.  Some estimates suggest that the shoreline may be retreating at a rate of up to 1m per year.  Along a 10km shoreline that is an incredible amount of land being lost and, once in the water, that soil creates further problems.  By increasing turbidity, the erosion decreases the amount of light available for photosynthesis which will impact seagrass growth.  The collapsing shoreline makes mangrove recovery virtually impossible while the exposure and oxidation of the peaty soils found in the area is likely to result in the release of CO2, which is exactly the opposite of what we want to achieve. 

People have attempted to address the problem.  Pylons have been sunk in.  Apparently, one landowner even attempted to create a “seawall” using two abandoned cars.  Clearly, though, nothing has worked.  This threatens to undo the good work being done elsewhere as well as costing landowners.  We are not sure what the solution will be but we hope to find one, soon! 

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