Apple, Conservation International introduce mangrove carbon credit

There’s a fresh nature-based carbon project on the town, and he or she’s getting attention from corporations with ambitious net-zero goals. Her name? Mangroves, a form of tree species and coastal forest ecosystem native to the tropics and subtropics. 

Blue carbon, carbon captured by oceans or the ecosystems surrounding oceans, has huge untapped potential for carbon sequestration and Verra, the verified carbon standard, told Yale360 that the blue carbon market is about to take off. In response to the article, Verra has issued 970,000 credits to blue carbon projects. And mangroves projects are poised to extend dramatically as they’ve turn into trendy with with big firms with ambitious carbon initiatives. Over the past 12 months, Gucci, Apple and Procter & Gamble have announced mangrove protection and restoration projects to assist combat greenhouse gas emissions. 

In July, P&G partnered with Conservation International on the Philippines Palawan Protection Project, which is able to safeguard 31 species of mangroves almost 110,000 acres of forests on the Philippines’ largest island. 

Firstly of 2021, Gucci unveiled the Muskitia Blue Carbon REDD+ project to guard 12,350 acres of mangroves in Honduras. And Apple, also working along side Conservation International, is working to preserve a 27,000-acre mangrove forest in Colombia. In response to Conservation International, this project can be the positioning of the primary fully accounted carbon offset credit for a mangrove.

Why are mangroves essential?

Mangroves are massive carbon sinks — between 4 and 10 times as much carbon could be sequestered by mangroves as in comparison with terrestrial forests, in response to Conservation International.

“At a high level, [mangroves] are salty and wet, and that keeps the carbon from breaking down,” said Jen Howard, senior director of Conservation International’s blue carbon program. 

The salty water keeps the organic material from producing methane because it decomposes, and the mangrove tree’s complex root systems catch sediment from upstream and keep it in place, reducing carbon dioxide emissions. There’s also a resilience profit: Mangrove roots can dramatically reduce erosion and act as a buffer during hurricanes and storms absorbing destructive waves and winds. A study from UC Santa Cruz found mangroves prevent greater than $65 billion in property damage annually by protecting against storm surges. Beyond that, mangroves are magnificent hubs of biodiversity — homes for fish, crabs, birds and lots of of plant species. 

“Where else do you discover tigers and manatees in the identical habitat?” asked Karen Douthwaite, lead specialist for the oceans program on the World Wildlife Fund. “No, you don’t get that fairly often.”

But we’ve got lost a variety of mangroves over the past 40 years. From the Eighties to the early 2000s, 20 percent of the world’s mangroves disappeared, driven by expansion related to tourism development, agriculture and aquaculture, pollution and climate change. That rate has slowed recently to about 2 percent lost annually, in response to a 2018 study in Nature. 

Why are we losing mangroves?

The explanations we’re losing mangroves are unique, and in contrast to many aspects contributing to forest loss elsewhere. Saving them also requires different tactics. While terrestrial forests are in danger from logging, timber production and wildfires, mangroves are rather more depending on the water systems around them. The hydrology of the world is amazingly essential to the success of the mangrove. 

“You could have to think about each what is going on on the coast where you discover [mangroves], but additionally you could look upstream,” Douthwaite said. 

In response to her, an infrastructure development inland could possibly be interrupting the flow of sediment and water to the grove or a farm could possibly be releasing toxic pollution upstream that has effects on the mangroves downstream. Each present dangers to mangroves. 

You could have to think about each what is going on on the coast where you discover [mangroves], but additionally you could look upstream.

Sea level rises and concrete development cause what experts call a “squeeze.” Normally, if the water levels rise, mangroves can move inland and construct up sediment vertically so the habitat stays at the best ratio of underwater to above water presence. In reality, normally, sea-level rises actually would increase the quantity of carbon stored by mangroves. But when the mangrove is trapped between increasing ocean levels and human development, the mangrove has nowhere to go and finally ends up entirely underwater, effectively squeezed out of existence. 

What’s more, unprecedented cold temperatures in tropical regions can result in mass mangrove loss, as they’re highly sensitive to freezes. In response to Jon Dale, senior manager for forest restoration within the lower Rio Grande Valley for American Forests, Texas lost most of its mangroves within the Eighties as a consequence of an unprecedented dip in temperatures. A majority of these cold events are happening more incessantly as a consequence of climate change and have to be considered in mangrove restoration projects. 

Capital in the shape of carbon offsets might help protect the mangroves we’ve got left and propagate recent ones, but issuing them must be done with robust science, in response to experts including Tiffany Troxler, an associate professor within the earth and environment department at Florida International University and consultant for Carbon Direct, a carbon offset project developer, and Howard. 

“We’re attempting to get those [mangrove] projects to be capable of manufacturing carbon offsets,” Troxler said “But often what isn’t as available is the rigorous monitoring and verification that should be done to make sure that you’re getting the carbon that you just’re attempting to bank.”

Apple and Conservation International have taken the primary stab at doing just that. 

The latest carbon credit on the block 

Today, Conservation International announced that a mangrove along the coast in Cispatá, Colombia, is the primary to have its carbon stores fully accounted for with a recent credit developed specifically to handle the unique carbon sequestration potential of mangroves. Before today, mangroves were still a part of the carbon offset market, but they were evaluated using terrestrial forest methods that undercounted the carbon stored within the mangrove’s roots and soil, where 60 percent of the carbon value lies, in response to Howard. 

“The technique for measuring the carbon [in mangrove soil] has been around for a very long time; it just wasn’t integrated into these processes to make it a financial mechanism,” she said. “What needed to occur was to take the entire science after which translate it right into a structure that may allow for financial profit.”

The 2-year project in Cispatá was funded in collaboration with Apple to push forward modern blue carbon solutions. The mangrove covers greater than 29,000 acres, and Conservation International has a goal of removing 1 million metric tons of emissions over the subsequent 30 years for the Cispatá project. A small portion of the carbon credits produced by this project will probably be retired in Apple’s name, but in response to Howard, most of Apple’s funding was a part of a philanthropic donation.

“The most effective climate solutions take their lead from local communities and the ecosystems — like mangrove forests — which might be crucial to the health of our planet,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice chairman of environment, policy and social initiatives in an email. “In partnership with Conservation International and indigenous communities in Colombia, we’re excited to hold forward our fight against climate change, find modern ways to measure the ‘blue carbon’ we remove from our atmosphere, and create pathways for other businesses to affix Apple in our work to turn into one hundred pc carbon neutral.”

Besides having more capability for carbon storage, there are other ways mangroves and the resulting carbon credits differ from traditional forestry credits. 

“I believe where we run into issues is when a terrestrial approach is applied to a coastal system,” Howard said. “You then find yourself with less-than-ideal restoration projects.” 

Unlike forests, restoring hydrology is integral to restoring the mangrove, and this process could be expensive. Project developers can have to search for possible infrastructure and obstructions upstream, and have interaction the stakeholders miles away from the mangrove to revive the water flow. But once they do, a variety of intense and expensive tree planting isn’t essential for a mangrove project. 

“Oftentimes, in case you’re just establishing the best conditions,” Douthwaite said, “the mangroves can type of effectively restore themselves. But when that river system isn’t in place, you then might restore the mangroves, but without the sediment coming down and being deposited, it’s just not going to work.”

Once the hydrology has been restored and the mangrove is spending the optimal period of time under the water, propagules, the long pointy a part of the mangrove that comprises the seeds and that detach to propagate recent mangrove trees, could be collected and thrown overboard. They are going to root themselves. 

Like with any carbon credit, the three keywords are additionality, permanence and leakage. In response to Howard, because we’re losing coastal ecosystems at such a quick rate and restoring them at such a low rate, any restoration of mangroves needs to be considered additional. Leakage can be not as much of a priority, in response to Troxler, because mangroves usually are not as vulnerable to forest fires, disease outbreaks and competing commercialization as terrestrial forests. 

Permanence is where mangroves and mangrove credits see the largest risk. If a carbon credit restores a mangrove that’s trapped between sea-level rise and coastal development, all that work could be squeezed out of existence. And historic freezing temperatures which might be becoming more common as a consequence of climate change can also wipe out a whole mangrove project overnight. 

Pricing is one other area where mangrove credits will differ from terrestrial forests. Conservation International plans to sell its mangrove carbon credits anywhere from $12 to $20 a ton. In response to a report from Ecosystems Marketplace, an initiative from The Forest Trends Association, traditional forestry and land use credits cost a mean of $5.92 in North America for a metric ton of CO2 removed.

The cash raised from the Cispatá will probably be collected in a centralized fund and distributed by a panel of local authorities with consultation from Conservation International. 

“It’s very prime quality carbon,” Howard said. “It also comes with an extra certification called CCB, the community climate and biodiversity certification, due to endangered species that we’re working with. And so combined, it’s the very first blue carbon credit to have this extra certification. We produce a premium product.”


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