Can ‘blue carbon’ make offsetting work? These pioneers think so

Can ‘blue carbon’ make offsetting work? These pioneers think so

In the first of a series, we look at how the vital but overlooked ecosystems of seagrass, mangroves and salt marshes could absorb 1.4bn tons of CO2 emissions a year

Off the Caribbean coast of Colombia, rare manatee calves have been spotted in the canals and rivers of Cispatá Bay’s mangrove forests. The once-critically endangered American crocodile is now seen more frequently. Birds and lizards nest in the branches, fish and shrimps use the roots as nurseries. These 11,000 protected hectares (27,000 acres) of mangroves are a biodiversity hotspot.

But the Cispatá conservation project, a collaboration between Colombia’s Marine and Coastal Research Institute (Invemar), Conservation International (CI) and Apple, is not just of interest to birdwatchers and ecologists. It has attracted the attention of marine scientists, researchers and corporations, as it is among the first to measure and sell a new type of credit to fund conservation: “blue carbon”.

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