“It’s sexy but underreported.” This is how Indonesian climate scientist, Daniel Murdiyarso, refers to the issue of blue carbon, or the carbon dioxide in coastal ecosystems. Indonesia has two major coastal blue carbon ecosystems: nearly 3 million hectares of mangroves and 300,000 hectares of seagrass meadows.
Terrestrial climate and environmental issues, such as deforestation or the conservation of endangered animals, get far more play in the media. While public and media outrage over the cutting down of trees or the razing of orangutan habitats is justified, the reality is that mangroves can, per hectare, store more than five times the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by upland forests.
This means that the clearing of mangroves emits five times more carbon dioxide than clearing a similar area of degraded forest or peatland, thus increasing carbon emissions and further exacerbating climate change. Murdiyarso tells New Naratif that while mangrove deforestation makes up only 6% of all deforestation in Indonesia, it contributes 30% of national carbon emissions.
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