An Australian blue carbon method to estimate climate change mitigation benefits of coastal wetland restoration
Restoration of coastal wetlands has the potential to deliver both climate change mitigation, called blue carbon, and adaptation benefits to coastal communities, as well as supporting biodiversity and providing additional ecosystem services. Valuing carbon sequestration may incentivize restoration projects; however, it requires development of rigorous methods for quantifying blue carbon sequestered during coastal wetland restoration. We describe the development of a blue carbon accounting model (BlueCAM) used within the Tidal Restoration of Blue Carbon Ecosystems Methodology Determination 2022 of the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), which is Australia's voluntary carbon market scheme. The new BlueCAM uses Australian data to estimate abatement from carbon and greenhouse gas sources and sinks arising from coastal wetland restoration (via tidal restoration) and aligns with the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change guidelines for national greenhouse gas inventories. BlueCAM includes carbon sequestered in soils and biomass and avoided emissions from alternative land uses. A conservative modeled approach was used to provide estimates of abatement (as opposed to on-ground measurements); and in doing so, this will reduce the costs associated with monitoring and verification for ERF projects and may increase participation in blue carbon projects by Australian landholders. BlueCAM encompasses multiple climate regions and plant communities and therefore may be useful to others outside Australia seeking to value blue carbon benefits from coastal wetland restoration.
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Australian Research Council