Seychelles Blue Carbon
Seychelles Blue Carbon
Seychelles, classed by the United Nations as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), has a total landmass of 459 km2 and an Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.35 million km2. Seychelles’ residents rely heavily on marine tourism and fishing revenue, however coastal wetlands have declined dramatically as a result of coastal development, and face added pressures with future sea level rise, increased storm surge, and salt water inundation. In 2016, Seychelles completed the world’s first ocean debt conversion for $21.6 M with support from The Nature Conservancy. Seychelles created a new independent trust for conservation and climate change after a new Act was passed and is called the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT). The debt conversion allowed Seychelles to write off a portion of its national debt and convert remaining debt to support conservation of its marine ecosystems, also known as “debt for nature swap”. This was followed in 2018 with Seychelles government announcing the launch of the world’s first sovereign blue bond, supported by the World Bank. SeyCCAT was created to fund marine conservation and climate adaptation projects annually over the next 20 years.
In partnership with the James Michel Foundation, the Blue Carbon Lab is developing a “Roadmap to Blue Carbon opportunities in the Seychelles” funded by a 2-year Blue grant from SeyCCAT. This project seeks to explore the Seychelles’ Blue Carbon future, by developing a first-pass assessment of potential Blue Carbon opportunities in Seychelles and building local capacity on Blue Carbon through a series of on-site workshops. Accounting for the ocean’s carbon offsetting capacity can help Seychelles remain a net carbon sink and achieve its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).
The research identified 131 studies examining the biomass or carbon stored in the Western Indian Ocean’s (WIO) mangroves and seagrass beds. Of these, 101 contained unique datasets, which were used in the study, 82 were based on mangrove ecosystems and 49 explored seagrass meadows, despite their higher distribution extent. This is likely to be because of mangrove’s higher carbon storage potential and easier access to sites and sampling. Almost half of the studies were published in the last 10 years, showing an increase in blue carbon research interest. Most studies were conducted along the mainland East African coast and only 4 in the Seychelles: 1 on mangroves, 3 on seagrass meadows.
The main conclusions from the report:
This literature review highlighted the tropical WIO is a blue carbon hotspot with significant carbon stocks being stored in its diverse and extensive coastal ecosystems. However, it also revealed that despite the increasing regional interest on blue carbon research, there are still major knowledge gaps to be addressed.
The key research gaps include: (1) the lack of blue carbon datasets from seagrass ecosystems, specifically habitat distribution and belowground plant measures; (2) little information on soil carbon stocks on mangrove and seagrass ecosystems (particularly along deep soil profiles); and (3) a significant lack of soil accretion rates (only 3 studies).
Most blue carbon datasets have been collected in the mainland coast of East Africa, leaving a major geographical gap in Small Island Developing States such as Seychelles. With only 4 relevant studies identified within the Seychelles archipelago, there is an urgent need for blue carbon research in the country.