CI, Apple Develop Mangrove Carbon Credits

Graphic by Annabel Driussi for ODP

by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer

In Cispatá on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, scientists have calculated just how much carbon a mangrove forest stores. Up until now, that number has treated mangroves like trees on land — missing more than half of their carbon store in the soil under trees. The calculation in Cispatá estimates the mangroves will remove about 1 million metric tons of emissions over the next 30 years. Just as important as the calculation is how it will be used: local communities worked with Conservation International and Colombian environmental authorities (with funding from Apple) to bring this mangrove forest onto the carbon market. The money from selling carbon credits will go toward protecting and restoring the mangroves as well as local education, employment and sustainable livelihood opportunities, according to Conservation International. 

Why This Matters: The Cispatá mangroves, like others worldwide, support a variety of plant and animal species, provide protection from storm surges, and are a source of food and livelihoods for the community. For mangroves, which are one of the most threatened habitats in the world, both the community-driven method and the full calculation of their carbon potential could be a new model for protection. 

After many years of training, education, and working together, these communities now have a full appreciation that keeping the mangrove forest healthy is in their own best interest, and in the best interest of their children and grandchildren,” marine biologist María Claudia Díazgranados Cadelo, who led the development of the project and its community engagement, told Our Daily Planet. “That is why they decided to name the project ‘Vida Manglar,’ indicating that mangroves are their entire life.”

Community Involvement from the Beginning: The Cispatá project started when the Colombian Environmental Authority reached out to community leaders who were surviving by logging mangroves and worked with them to develop “Mangleros” — community-based associations that committed to the protection and sustainable management of the mangroves. 

it is important to note that in Colombia – as in many parts of the developing world – environmental authorities don’t have enough funding to truly protect declared protected areas,” Díazgranados said. The resulting project, which uses the sale of carbon credits to fund that protection, helps keep power in the local community while “contributing to the protection of the high conservation values of the community and biodiversity,” Díazgranados said.

Blue Carbon: Sequestering “blue carbon” is crucial for nations to meet their climate and conservation goals because aquatic ecosystems are exceptionally adept at storing carbon. As such, blue carbon credits can also become meaningful tools to work with indigenous communities to protect some of Earth’s most precious ecosystems. As Lisa Jackson, Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives explained,

In partnership with Conservation International and indigenous communities in Colombia, we’re excited to carry forward our fight against climate change, find innovative ways to measure the ‘blue carbon’ we remove from our atmosphere, and create pathways for other businesses to join Apple in our work to become 100% carbon neutral.”

Learn more about blue carbon:

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