“Blue Carbon” refers to the functional attributes of coastal and marine ecosystems to sequester and store carbon. Blue Carbon Ecosystems of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) include mangrove forests, salt marshes and seagrass beds. Another potential Blue Carbon ecosystem identified as part of this project is cyanobacterial “blue-green algal” mats. This study is the first to investigate algal mats as a potential Blue Carbon ecosystem. A small set of samples were also collected from coastal sabkha. 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.
The Abu Dhabi Blue Carbon Demonstration Project aims to improve our understanding of carbon sequestration and the other services that coastal and marine Blue Carbon ecosystems provide in the Emirate and in addition, contribute to the improved understanding of this relatively new concept on a regional and international level. The project will enhance local capacity to measure and monitor carbon in coastal ecosystems and to manage associated data. The project also identifies options for the incorporation of these values into policy and management and lead to sustainable ecosystem use and the preservation of their services for future generations.