Carbon stocks and fluxes in mangrove ecosystems | Evidence-Based Forestry

Carbon stocks and fluxes in mangrove ecosystems

Carbon stock and fluxes associated with land-use and land-cover change in mangrove ecosystems 

Lead reviewer: Sigit Sasmito, CIFOR, Charles Darwin University

Systematic review protocol: CIFOR Working Paper 211

As one of the most efficient natural carbon sinks on earth, mangrove ecosystems play a critical role in the global carbon cycle.  Mangroves serve two important functions in regulating the coastal carbon cycle: as a forest, they assimilate and fix carbon in above- and below-ground biomass, and as an intertidal wetland, they sequester atmospheric carbon and store it in waterlogged, carbon-rich soil.  Lately, the term “blue carbon” has been used to bring together all types of vegetated intertidal ecosystems that act as natural storage for significant amounts of carbon over a long period, which includes mangroves, sea grass and salt marshes.  However, across the world mangrove ecosystems are in rapid decline due to deforestation, pollution and conversion to other land uses. Because of their important functions in assimilating and sequestering carbon in above- and below-ground biomass and soil, and, because of their functions in intertidal vegetation systems, assessing and quantifying the amount of carbon stored in mangrove ecosystems has become fundamental in the context of climate change and the development of sustainable mitigation plans.

The objective of this systematic review is to provide a comprehensive synthesis of scientific evidence on the impacts land-use and land cover changes (LULCC) have on the global mangrove carbon cycle and examine the research gaps that remain. While many studies note the increasing risks land-use change poses to mangrove ecosystems and climate change goals, there is still no consensus on the magnitude of impact that LULCC have on mangroves and carbon dynamics. This review will lend further support to policy makers working in climate change, forests and coastal wetland ecosystems by presenting a concise analysis of the crucial significance mangroves have as the highest blue carbon reservoirs.

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