Blue carbon for the people
Working with Afro-Caribbean communities to prevent mangrove destruction, restore ecosystem biodiversity & create sustainable development benefits for all.
Choco Darien Region, Colombia
Annual Projected Emissions Reductions
Colombia has approximately 379,954 hectares of mangrove forests distributed along both its Caribbean and Pacific Ocean coastlines. In the Choco and Antioquia ‘Departments’ of northern Colombia, mangroves are recognised as critical carbon sinks and biodiversity hotspots, and act as habitats for a wide range of vulnerable and endangered flora and fauna.
Mangroves in Colombia’s Choco-Darien region are experiencing the highest annual rate of loss recorded in South America. Over the last three decades, Illegal logging, local firewood collection, and clearing of forests for tourism infrastructure, agriculture and cattle ranching have destroyed or greatly degraded more than 40,000 hectares of mangrove forests.
As these marine forests are destroyed, degraded and fragmented, the natural carbon, watershed management and biodiverse ecosystem services break down and significant amounts of greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere. This consequently diminishes access to natural resources that the local Afro-Carribean communities depend on for their lives, livelihoods and cultural connections, and once lost these forests are very difficult to restore.
Over the next 30 years, we aim to work with local Afro-Caribbean communities to alleviate the drivers of deforestation, maintain critically biodiverse mangrove carbon sinks, and foster sustainable development of local peoples.
The resultant decrease in illegal logging, the recovery of already degraded forests, and the reduction of forest conversion to other land uses is expected to decrease emissions, enhance forest carbon stocks over time, improve biodiversity and ecosystem services, and create ongoing environmental, community and economic benefits.
This project will use carbon finance to incentivise behavioural change and more active land management, and incorporate the knowledge, expertise and leadership of local communities drive real change for people and planet.
Globally, mangrove forests are recognised as biodiversity hotspots that store up to five times as much ‘blue’ carbon as terrestrial forests, improve and maintain local water quality, protect coastal regions from storm surges and erosion, and act as nurseries and habitats for a wide range of marine and terrestrial flora and fauna.
This project will:
- protect and restore more than 69,000 hectares of mangrove ecosystems in northern Colombia;
- prevent approximately 4.6 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the atmosphere and sequester additional carbon in the process.
- preserve these critical ‘blue carbon’ sinks that sequester up to five times as much carbon as terrestrial forests, and protect inland areas from increased climate impacts such as storm surges, rising tides, and coastal erosion.
Colombia is second only to Indonesia in having the highest National Biodiversity Index and contains 10% of the world’s biodiversity. This project will help to:
- protect and enhance the biodiversity of existing, vulnerable mangrove ecosystems;
- restore and strengthen a wide range of ecosystem services, including improved watershed, air quality, natural resource, and cultural benefits.
- reconnect remnant mangroves to larger forest areas, creating create strong wildlife corridors for a wide range of endemic flora and fauna;
- Conserve critical habitats for vulnerable species including the Jaguar, Cotton-top Tamarin, Giant Anteater, Baird’s Tapir and the Marine Turtle.
This project will strengthen communities and livelihoods of the local Afro-Caribbean communities that hold recognised traditional ownership of these forested lands. In partnership with these communities, the project will support:
- Strengthening of local governance through improvements to land-use planning and implementation;
- Supporting development of economic and livelihood alternatives through training and technical assistance in sustainable agriculture and fishery practices and value chains for poor, vulnerable communities;
- Enhancing local administrative, leadership capacity and environmental awareness for women and children; and
- Enhancing social capital through the creation or strengthening of institutions (e.g. community-owned corporations, associations, cooperatives)
- Directing financial resources to support community-improvement programs, including investment in health, economic, connectivity, and transport infrastructure.
Landscapes surrounding these mangrove wetlands include more distinct tropical tropical forests which together provide biological corridors for a wide variety of native and migratory fauna, and strategic habitats for reproduction, feeding, refuge and transit.
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