Carbon Storage

Preserving Habitats That Absorb Carbon

This goal measures the extent and condition of the natural coastal ecosystems - seagrasses, tidal marshes and mangroves - that store large amounts of carbon in their roots, stems and leaves and sequester it for decades or centuries in the sediment below where oxygen cannot reach it. 

When these habitats and sediments are preserved, air cannot reach the carbon they store. If they are disturbed or destroyed, air reaches the carbon and oxygen oxidizes it to carbon dioxide (CO₂), a heat-trapping gas that is the main source of climate warming.  

Global Goal Score


Likely Future State


Ocean Region Rankings

*The estimate of a goal’s likely near-term future status is a function
of four dimensions: Status, Trend, Pressure, and Resilience.

What Does This Score Mean?

The reference point for Carbon Storage compares the current extent and condition of CO2 storing coastal habitats (mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, and salt marshes) relative to their condition in the early 1980’s. A score of 100 would indicate that these habitats are all still intact or have been restored to the same condition as they were in the early 1980’s. A score of 0 would indicate that these carbon storing coastal habitats are completely absent, while a low score indicates that these habitats have declined significantly since 1980 and that more protection and restoration must occur in order for them to store the maximum amount of carbon.

Current Score

The current score indicates that although, in many places, these habitats remain healthy and intact, a significant number have declined significantly since 1980. More protection and restoration must occur if they are to sequester and store the maximum amount of carbon possible.



Why Are Coastal Habitats Important to Carbon Storage?
Download Infographic

How Is It Measured?

Each goal is evaluated on the basis of four dimensions
Present Status

Present Status is a goal's current value (based on the most recent available data) compared to a reference point.


Trend is the average percent change in the present status for the most recent 5 years of data.


Pressures are the sum of the ecological and social pressures that negatively affect scores for a goal.


Resilience is the sum of the ecological factors and social initiatives (policies, laws, etc) that can positively affect scores for a goal by reducing or eliminating pressures.


Pressures are human-caused stressors that influence both ecological and social systems, negatively affecting the ability of a goal to deliver its benefits to people.


Status refers to the current value of a goal relative to its goal-specific reference point. The reference point is the best condition for a goal that can reasonably be achieved; it is a target to aim for when taking actions to improve ocean health.


Resilience refers to the social, institutional, and ecological factors that positively affect the ability of a goal to deliver its benefits to people.


PHOTO(S): © James Forte/National Geographic
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