“Blue Carbon” refers to the functional attributes of coastal and marine ecosystems to sequester
and store carbon. Blue Carbon ecosystems of the UAE include mangrove forests, salt marshes
and seagrass beds. Another potential Blue Carbon ecosystem identified as a result of this project
is cyanobacterial “blue-green algal” mats (hereafter referred to as algal flats). When these
ecosystems are destroyed, buried carbon can be released into the atmosphere, contributing to
global warming. In addition to their climate-related benefits, Blue Carbon ecosystems provide
highly valuable Ecosystem Services to coastal communities. They protect shorelines, provide
nursery grounds for fish and habitats for a wide range of terrestrial and aquatic species, and
support coastal tourism. They also have significant cultural and social values.
A prior study, the Abu Dhabi Blue Carbon Demonstration project quantified carbon stocks and
the other services provided by coastal and marine Blue Carbon ecosystems along the coast of the
Emirate, and also contributed to the improved understanding of this relatively new concept on a
regional and international level (Crooks et al., 2013; Crooks et al., 2014; Campbell et al., 2014).
The project enhanced local capacity to measure and monitor carbon in coastal ecosystems and
to manage associated data. In addition, it identified options for the incorporation of these values
into policy and management to support sustainable ecosystem use and the preservation of their
services for future generations.
Building on the results of the Abu Dhabi Blue Carbon Demonstration (ADBC) project, the Northern
and Eastern Emirates Project extended the baseline assessment of the total carbon stocks of
mangroves to the Northern and Eastern Emirates. This effort included field surveys specifically
quantify the carbon of mangroves ecosystems, capacity building for those interested in learning
Blue Carbon and mangrove ecology sampling approaches, and extensive laboratory and
computer analysis to determine carbon stocks in a scientifically defensible manner. These new
data points in the Northern and Eastern Emirates will form an important part of the overall
national Blue Carbon account for the UAE.