By Cecilia Ologunagba
LIMA (PERU) – The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has said that over 66 billion dollars worth of climate benefits from Central African Mangroves with full economic potential of carbon remain untapped.
This is contained in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the ongoing 20th Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP 20) in Lima, Peru.
The statement issued on Tuesday said that new satellite technology could help monitor mangrove and restore it.
The report stated that the economic and social benefits of mangroves which is estimated to be hundreds of billions worldwide remained largely untapped.
It said this was due to a lack of carbon finance mechanisms, appropriate policy interventions, and rapid mangrove deforestation.
According to the statement, the guiding principles for delivering coastal wetland carbon projects finds that the potential economic, social and environmental gains from conserving mangroves, 90 per cent of which are found in developing countries.
It stated that the percentage of which were found in developing countries under threat including from mangrove inclusion in Reducing Emissions from Deforestations and forest Degradation (REDD+) strategies and protecting and enhancing mangrove stores of carbon, still remain largely under-exploited.’’
The UNEP estimated the economic cost of the destruction of carbon-rich mangroves, which are being cleared 3 to 5 times faster than terrestrial forests, estimated to be at 42 billion dollars in economic damages annually.
The report, however, argued that while policymakers and financial markets are beginning to take action, more needs to be done to develop new methodologies for carbon accounting for mangroves and other coastal wetland ecosystems.
It said that it needed to develop new methodology to conserve mangroves, and to increase the profile of mangroves in REDD+ and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The statement, however, quoted UN Under-Secretary-General, Ban Ki- moon and UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner as saying that : “as the latest Emissions Gap Report makes clear, countries are increasingly aware of how much progress they need to make to limit a global temperature rise to 2 degree Celsius.
“Developing countries have a major climate change mitigation and adaptation asset in the form of mangroves because they hold several times more carbon than terrestrial forests.
“What is needed now are the right carbon finance mechanisms, and policy interventions, in order to reap the true economic, climate and social gains from this critical ecosystem, which we cannot afford to lose.
The statement said that the management of coastal wetlands is a no-regrets approach, with many additional ecosystem service benefits such as fisheries production and shoreline protection, which promote adaptation in coastal communities.
It said that a number of coastal wetlands carbon project initiatives, which include mangroves in their infancy in many parts of the world, including Kenya, Senegal, West Bengal, and Sumatra are already showing indications of success.
“The Gazi Bay community-led carbon finance project in Kenya for the conservation, management and restoration of 117 hectares of mangroves, has so far sold certificates of 3,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (C02).
“The funds being allocated to community projects and additional mangrove activities are being overseen by village leaders,” the statement said.
According to the statement, one of the many successes of the project has been a dramatic reduction in illegal harvesting of mangroves.
“It is hoped that the success of the community based initiatives in these countries, will pave the way for other developing countries to start establishing new carbon projects to ensure sustainable ecosystem services to local communities,’’ it said.
By Cecilia Ologunagba