Opportunities for blue carbon strategies in China
Oscar Serrano, Edith Cowan UniversityFollow
Richard B. Rivkin
Carlos M. Duarte
Ocean and Coastal Management
School of Science / Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research
Blue Carbon (BC) strategy refers to the approaches that mitigate and adapt to climate change through the conservation and restoration of seagrass, saltmarsh and mangrove ecosystems and, in some BC programs, also through the expansion of seaweed aquaculture. The major losses of coastal habitats in combination with the commitments of China under the Paris Agreement provide unique opportunity and necessity to develop a strong Chinese BC program. Here, we (1) characterize China's BC habitats, examine their changes since 1950 along with the drivers of changes; (2) consider the expansion of seaweed aquaculture and how this may be managed to become an emerging BC resource in China, along with the engineering solutions required to enhance its potential; and (3) provide the rationale and elements for BC program in China. We find China currently has 1326–2149 km2 wild and 2–15 km2 created mangrove, saltmarsh and seagrass habitats, while 9236–10059 km2 (77–87%) has been lost since 1950, mainly due to land reclamation. The current area of farmed seaweed habitat is 1252–1265 km2, which is close to the area of wild mangrove, saltmarsh and seagrass habitats. We conclude that BC strategies have potentials yet to be fully developed in China, particularly through climate change adaptation benefits such as coastal protection and eco-environmental co-benefits of seaweed farming such as habitat creation for fish and other biota, alleviation of eutrophication, hypoxia and acidification, and the generation of direct and value added products with lower environmental impact relative to land-based production. On this basis, we provide a roadmap for BC strategies adjusted to the unique characteristics and capacities of China.