Issue 4
Monday, 03 June 2019
Charles Darwin University
RIEL researchers Madeline Goddard and Dr Clint Cameron survey a mangrove habitat. Image: Aaron Burton
RIEL researchers Madeline Goddard and Dr Clint Cameron survey a mangrove habitat. Image: Aaron Burton

Restoring mangroves ‘makes good business sense’

By Patrick Nelson

An environmental researcher says there is compelling new evidence to support the idea of using carbon forest markets to finance the restoration of abandoned fish ponds back to mangrove habitats.

Dr Clint Cameron from CDU’s Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods undertook extensive field work at sites in Tiwoho (North Sulawesi) and Tanakeke Island (South Sulawesi) Indonesia for his PhD thesis.

“We found that reducing baseline greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions from dry fish ponds and then removing carbon from the atmosphere as mangroves regrew at Tiwoho was three times more effective in mitigating GHGs than other ecosystems such as tropical rainforests, particularly when Ecological Mangrove Rehabilitation (EMR) techniques were applied,” Dr Cameron said.

EMR is a best-practice approach that emphasises restoring tidal flows to facilitate seedling dispersal and growth of mangrove species at natural levels of tidal inundation. It has been successfully applied in other countries such as Vietnam, Florida and Singapore.

“Basically, restoring tidal hydrology to dry, exposed fish ponds immediately nullifies GHG emissions. It’s like having runs on the board before you even go out to bat.”

Dr Cameron said the findings strengthened the business case for market-based interventions.

“Our evidence indicates that investment in mangrove rehabilitation could deliver three times the GHG emissions mitigation returns compared to other habitats, and we think that framing results in economic terms might appeal to corporations seeking to offset carbon emissions and meet the environmental and social expectations of shareholders.

“Mangroves are an extremely productive ecosystem and highly effective in mitigating the impacts of climate change through their ability to sequester and bury carbon.”