Along Madagascar’s north-west coast are areas covered with mangrove forests. These lanscapes, which the environmental organization Blue Ventures refers to as “blue forests,” are being lost at a devastating rate–even faster than the Amazon Rainforest.
Over the past 100 years, mangrove forests worldwide have declined by 50%, and their deforestation has accounted for roughly 10% of global emissions.
Through their Blue Forests project, Blue Ventures is collecting and analyzing information that will show the importance of mangrove forests, and their capacity to sustain blue carbon. The results of this research, which focuses on “quantifying greenhouse gas emission reductions that can be achieved through mangrove conservation [and] understanding the socioeconomic impacts of mangrove conservation” will help convince global leaders that blue carbon should be accounted for, and has the ability to help regulate greenhouse gasses.
The carbon that is absorbed and stored by aquatic plant life, such as mangrove forests, is referred to as blue carbon. Blue carbon deposits, which are created and held by plants such as the mangrove forests in Madagascar, are believed to be absorbing large amount of greenhouse gases, such as carbon monoxide that is emitted by humans; the process of aquatic plants creating and storing blue carbon helps keeps ecosystems in check.
However, many marine ecosystems, including aquatic plant life, are constantly being destroyed through acts such as deforestation.
Keeping these ecosystems alive is important, and necessary, because they help keep carbon dioxide emissions down. Aquatic plants, such as the mangrove forests along the coasts of Madagascar, also help coastal populations maintain successful, healthy livelihoods.
Mangroves help keep other marine life alive, such as fish, crabs and lobsters, which helps boost their populations, and in return provides the opportunity for coastal populations to increase their livelihoods through small-scale fishing projects. Mangrove forests also help protect and maintain coastal shores from storms and help provide natural water filtration.
Blue Ventures believes that if the value of blue carbon is understood on a global level, Madagascar’s mangrove forests could help “finance community-led mangrove management, and help safeguard the fisheries that mangroves support.” Once the global population realizes how important mangroves are in fighting climate change, their preservation will become evermore important.
Blue Ventures believes that the best way to sustain environmental projects is through community involvement. When coastal populations recognize and understand the importance of their surroundings, including their environment, they become invested in helping create and maintain successful futures.
Blue Ventures is also committed to teaching local coastal populations how to harness the power of their environment and use it to their advantage while sustaining it.
The Blue Forests project is working to ensure that both mangrove forests, and the marine biodiversity they host, are sustainably preserved. Global demand for seafood often results in over fishing, so Blue Ventures teaches local fishermen how to sustainably harvest marine life and ensure that ecosystems are not destroyed through commercial fishing. As a result, they ensure that their projects deliver “effective management [that] improves food security and makes economic sense.”
For the project to be wholly successful, Blue Ventures also works to ensure that local populations and community partners have legal support, the knowledge needed to ensure sustainable practices are used, tactical training, and access to training and information related to the overall scope of the project.
One of the Blue Forests local initiatives, located in the Bay of Assassins, is called Tahiry Honko, which translates from the local dialect to “protect mangroves.” The project aims to create carbon credits through the preservation of local mangrove forests, led by the local community, which are then transferred and sold to commercial companies to help offset carbon emissions. The money is then given back to the community.
A video explaining the importance of this project can be viewed here.