Capturing the value of coastal wetlands through Blue Carbon Resilience Credits

Mangroves, sea grasses and salt marshes have a quadruple bottom line. They are nurseries for a variety of marine life, capture nutrient pollution as it flows from the land into the sea, can sequester up to 10 times more carbon than terrestrial forests, and provide a protective barrier against incoming wave energy from coastal storms. Blue Carbon credits are an emerging financial mechanism designed to capture the sequestration benefits of these coastal wetlands. Resilience Credits are an innovation developed by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and AXA XL to recognise the benefits of protecting and restoring these habitats in terms of adaptation to sea level rise (e.g flood reduction).

This ORRAA-supported project is aiming to transform coastal wetland management by creating both a carbon and a resilience value for mangrove ecosystems in the Caribbean and globally. Separate Blue Carbon and Resilience Credits will – for the first time – allow corporations to offset their carbon footprint while simultaneously supporting resilience by reducing flooding in highly vulnerable coastal areas through the conservation and restoration of coastal wetlands. This will not only help protect millions of people, but also deliver multiple co-benefits, including healthier fisheries, water purification, and improved local livelihoods.

ORRAA funds are laying the foundation for what may become the first ever blue carbon initiative in The Bahamas. The project has completed a pre-feasibility study for carbon and resilience credit market project development across two sites covering 10,000 ha of mangroves – estimating that by restoring those sites alone, over 750 people would be at reduced risk of flood impacts, and more than $140million a year in property damages could be avoided.

Working closely with local stakeholders and despite the COVID pandemic preventing site visits, TNC has now identified two of the four sites to take through to the next stage of market project development. TNC is now working with local partners on establishing a baseline for the market project, including creating updated mangrove site maps to distinguish between mangrove species.

TNC is also examining additional blended funding mechanisms to allow Blue Carbon Resilience Credit projects to be established across the Caribbean.