investment in rehabilitating mangroves could pay off with
carbon offset credits. (ABC News: Emilia
When it comes to conserving Australia’s natural landscape, our
boggy, mosquito-laden mangrove forests haven’t always been
first in line.
Coastal wetlands suffer an image problem in the eyes of the
public, says Dr Kerrylee Rogers, an ARC future fellow at the
University of Wollongong’s School of Earth and Environmental
“We often associate them with bad smells and mosquitos, but
they’re a really important carbon source for coastal
ecosystems,” Dr Rogers said.
“They’ve got a bit of a perception problem and they really need
to be reframed in the context of the benefits they provide.”
Dr Rogers said coastal wetlands actually play a more important
part in reducing greenhouse gases than inland rainforests.
Researchers are currently building a case for including the
carbon stored in coastal wetlands in the emission reductions
This would mean that one day soon, Australia is likely to have
another source for offsetting carbon emissions.
Across the country, but especially in the eastern states, there
has been significant degradation of mangrove forests, through
both real estate developments and conversion to other land
“This has meant there’s been a lot of loss of coastal wetlands,
and the result of that has been a loss of carbon,” Dr Roger
“The carbon that has already been stored is decomposing and
breaking down into greenhouse gasses.”
Opportunity to offset emissions for carbon credits
Charles Darwin University PhD student Clint Cameron is
specialising in building the business case for greater
investment in mangrove rehabilitation.
“The idea that we’re thinking is if you’re a businessman, and
you want to get the most bang for your buck, we’re trying to
say, ‘invest in mangrove rehabilitation rather than rainforest
preservation, because you’re going to get more carbon returns
per unit area over time’,” Mr Cameron said.
Photo: Clint Cameron
says investing in mangrove rehab will give more bang for the
buck. (Supplied: Charles Darwin
Mr Cameron is basing his research on a test site in Indonesia,
where mangrove forests have been totally degraded due to
short-term, and now defunct fish ponds.
He wants to show the potential revenue that can be created
through carbon credits if the mangrove sites are rehabilitated.
“The point is if you can restore these habitats, and you can
generate carbon credits,” he said.
“[And] if just a small portion of any revenue generated could
go back to coastal communities — to people actually living in
and using those resources — then that’s an option that they
never had before, and that’s a livelihoods diversification
option that didn’t exist.
“It’s a win-win, really.”
Mr Cameron is adding to an increasing body of research that is
demonstrating how much carbon is pumped into the atmosphere by
the creatures that live in the rich wetlands soil long after
the mangroves are gone.
He said he had measured the accumulation of greenhouse gases
over time from an individual mud-dwelling creature, and the
amount of carbon emitted was “incredible”.
“It was just unreal. Something I never expected before,” he
“I just simply didn’t expect the volume of the carbon that was
going to be emitted from these creatures, like mud lobster, for