“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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Warief Djajanto Basorie

Reported for the domestic KN I News Service in Jakarta 1971-1991 and concurrently was Indonesia correspondent for the Manila- based DEPTHnews Asia (DNA, 1974-1991). DNA is a feature service reporting on development in Asia for Asian media in English and the vernacular. English-language subscribers included the Bangkok Post, Hong Kong Standard, Asian Wall Street Journal, Indonesia Times, Philippine Daily Inquirer.

In 1991 joined the Dr. Soetomo Press Institute (LPDS, Lembaga Pers Dr. Soetomo), a journalism school in Jakarta as an instructor and convenor in thematic journalism workshops. Most recently was project manager for three cycles of workshops on covering climate change since 2012. More than 600 journalists in provinces in Sumatra, Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), Sulawesi and Papua prone to forest and peat fires have participated. The latest cycle ended December 2017.