Report highlights importance of Maine salt marshes and seagrass for carbon storage
A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency underscores the importance of coastal marshes and seagrass in storing carbon. This so-called blue carbon is getting more attention.
The EPA report on blue carbon from Maine to Long Island shows that Maine has 54,000 acres of salt marsh and eelgrass habitat, storing about 1.7 million metric tons of carbon.
Bates College professor Beverly Johnson co-authored the report, and her students gathered some of the data. She says salt marshes sequester more carbon per acre than trees. But when thinking about climate solutions, many people focus on forests, also known as green carbon.
"A lot of people think, 'We'll go plant a tree,'" Johnson says. "Which is great, that's a great idea. But let's also think about conserving and restoring salt marshes and eelgrass beds. They are also incredibly powerful carbon sinks in the state of Maine."
Johnson says it will be important to continue studying seagrass and salt marsh habitats, to learn not only how they guard against the worst impacts of climate change by sequestering carbon and protecting the shoreline, but also how they might be affected by rising sea levels and other impacts of climate change.