Wetlands Restoration Wetlands Restoration Adelaide Smartgroup © Jarrod Boord/Streamline Media


A bolder future for ‘Blue Carbon’: $2.9 M government grant advances new coastal wetlands restoration in South Australia

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A unique partnership to restore South Australia’s carbon-rich wetlands and strengthen local economies received a significant boost today from the Australian Government Department of Climate change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW), which announced a $2.9 million grant to advance the South Australian Blue Carbon Ecosystem Restoration Project, led by The Nature Conservancy Australia (TNC).

The new grant will support efforts by TNC and partners to restore and enhance 12,400 hectares of mangroves and saltmarsh habitats located 50 km north of Adelaide in the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary. Partners include Kaurna, the South Australian Department for Environment and Water, Adelaide Plains Council, Flinders University, The University of Adelaide, Birds SA, BirdLife Australia, and the Northern and Yorke Landscape Board.

Blue carbon — the carbon stored in coastal ecosystems — is of growing interest among scientists and policymakers worldwide as a critical tool in mitigating climate change. Mangroves, seagrasses, and saltmarshes line vast stretches of coastlines globally, absorbing and storing carbon at concentrations up to five times greater than terrestrial forests. This ‘blue carbon’ can remain in the sediment for thousands of years, making it one of the longest-term natural solutions to climate change.

But worldwide, coastal wetlands are disappearing at alarming rates, converted for agriculture, aquaculture and urban development.

The new TNC project aims to restore natural tidal flows into stranded mangroves and saltmarshes, improving both the ecological health and extent of these local ecosystems. Increased blue carbon storage not only provides climate and biodiversity benefits but can also provide new income streams for local farmers through the growing carbon offset market.

“South Australia’s coastal wetlands are of national biodiversity significance and provide vast opportunities to advance a blue carbon economy and help mitigate climate change,” said Alison Rowe, Managing Director for TNC Australia. “Around the world, we’re seeing just how important these ecosystems are to reducing emissions and protecting coastal communities who are among the most vulnerable to climate impacts. This project can serve as a model for future blue carbon projects—here in Australia, and on the global stage.”

The project area provides critically important habitat for many Australian and migratory shorebirds. Around 15,000 migratory shorebirds gather here for up to six months each year before migrating to breeding grounds in China, Siberia and elsewhere in East Asia. Expanding the habitat available to these birds will strengthen global conservation efforts along one of the world’s three great migratory bird flight paths.

The new funding announcement, helps build on significant blue carbon project investment made by the European philanthropic organisation COmON Foundation, and corporate donor Smartgroup.

Click here for high-res photos: (Credit: Streamline Media) 

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organisation dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we focus on getting things done efficiently and with the greatest positive impact for conservation. We’re a trusted organisation working in more than 70 countries and territories around the world on innovative solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. To learn more about The Nature Conservancy in Australia, follow us on Facebook.