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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. 

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. 

Goal Score

79 The goal score for Goal: Carbon Storage is 79 out of 100. The global average score is 71 out of 100.

Likely Future State

+2%

It is estimated that in the near future the score for Goal: Carbon Storage will improve roughly +2%.
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global score

Overview

What Does This Score Mean?

The reference point for Carbon Storage compares the current extent and condition of CO2storing 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 and more declines are likely in the near future. More protection and restoration must occur if they are to sequester and store the maximum amount of carbon possible.

Why Is Carbon Storage Important?

Carbon dioxide (CO₂) is the primary heat trapping gas in Earth’s atmosphere and is a key driver of global climate change. 

The ocean plays a major role in slowing the pace of global climate change by absorbing CO₂ from the atmosphere and storing it as carbon. Carbon is stored in every component of the oceans. 

This goal focuses on three ecosystems — mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrasses — that have remarkable ability to store and sequester carbon in their living parts and buried detritus. 

When destroyed or degraded, these ecosystems not only stop sequestering carbon but can start to release it, becoming new sources of carbon dioxide that can accelerate global warming for decades or longer.  Though these coastal ecosystems form less than 2% of the ocean’s surface, they contribute more to long-term carbon storage and sequestration in sediments than any other ocean ecosystem.

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