B.C.'s estuaries hold extraordinary potential for moderating climate change and should be our highest priority for conservation of any marine or terrestrial habitat.
A 2010 Sierra Club BC report, entitled “, evaluates the carbon storage potential of two highly-biodiverse marine habitats—salt marsh and seagrass meadow—in the light of a recent discovery of the crucial role of estuarine vegetation in binding carbon. ”
“Eelgrass beds and salt marshes effectively bury carbon for thousands of years,” says Sierra Club BC’s science advisor, Colin Campbell, PhD. “This is probably the most efficient carbon removal mechanism on Earth—and we should make good use of it while we still have a chance to avoid the worst climate scenarios.”
The report highlights the urgency of protecting seagrass meadows and salt marshes, which are disappearing at rates 2 to 15 times higher than the world’s forests. In BC, these habitats—mostly found in estuaries—not only stash away enough carbon to balance the emissions of 200,000 passenger cars every year, but are also vital nurseries for marine life.
According to the report and accompanying maps, the top-ranking estuaries for carbon storage are located on Vancouver Island and in the Lower Mainland.
The report recommends urgent government action to conserve, enhance and expand these estuarine habitats.
Unfortunately, seagrass-rich estuaries are the most rapidly disappearing ecosystems on earth, having lost at least 30% of their area since 1940 and under increasing threat today.
B.C. is blessed with rich carbon-soaking vegetation on land as well as under water. The most effective of these options are our salt marshes and eel grass beds. It could be argued that in view of their manifold benefits, they should occupy the highest possible priority for conservation, management and restoration.
What You Can Do
Boost your Gumboot Power: volunteer with ain your area to help restore seagrass beds. by community efforts to preserve and restore seagrass.
Deploy your Civic Muscle: Let the B.C. government know you care about the integrity of our coasts and estuaries, which is intimately linked to big-picture issues like climate change and loss of marine life.to implement proactive climate policies, including conservation of carbon-storing seagrass beds and salt marshes.