Roadmap ready for protection of blue carbon ecosystems in Seychelles, says James Michel Foundation

The roadmap proposes a series of social, scientific, governance and financial actions that should be implemented over the next few years. (James Michel Foundation)

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A roadmap on blue carbon opportunities in the Seychelles undertaken by the James Michel Foundation – created by the former president of the country – in collaboration with Australia Deakin University has been completed, paving the way for the protection and restoration of marine ecosystems.

Funded by the Blue Grants Fund of the Seychelles Conservation & Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT), the roadmap proposes a series of social, scientific, governance and financial actions that should be implemented over the next few years to multiply actions aimed at protecting blue carbon ecosystems.

Blue carbon refers to carbon that is captured and stored by marine and coastal ecosystems and is important because it can capture carbon up to four times faster than terrestrial forests.

The chief scientific adviser of the James Michel FoundationDr. Ameer Ebrahim, told SNA that “Globally, up to one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide are released each year from degraded blue carbon ecosystems, equivalent to 19% of emissions due to tropical deforestation. With a third of all blue carbon ecosystems already lost, halting and reversing their degradation is critical to mitigating climate change.”

He added that “unfortunately, when blue carbon ecosystems degrade, they become sources of greenhouse gases (GHGs) releasing old carbon into the system.”

The Seychelles archipelago in the western Indian Ocean contains one of the most biologically diverse marine ecosystems on the planet, while carbonaceous ecosystems cover more than two million hectares, seagrass marine representing 99% of the extent of blue carbon. The island nation’s other carbon ecosystem is made up of mangrove forests, more than 80% of which are located in Aldabra Atoll.

Seychelles’ carbon ecosystems cover over two million hectares, with seagrass beds accounting for 99% of the blue carbon extent. (James Michel Foundation) Photo License: CC-BY

As a small island state, Seychelles is vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change and is therefore increasingly committed to using blue carbon as a natural climate solution.

In its updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the island nation pledged to protect at least 50% of its seagrass beds and mangroves by 2025. This is seen as an effective solution based on the nature to reduce 26.4% of national greenhouse gases (GHGs). by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

With these ambitious goals and to effectively capitalize on its full blue carbon potential, Seychelles needs to strategically advance its research, engage its community and ensure that blue carbon is part of its legal frameworks.

Ebrahim told SNA that these types of studies will give Seychelles a better local perspective of the amount of blue carbon stored in its exclusive economic zone.

“It will provide insight into the gaps in our knowledge and set out a roadmap on how best to fill these gaps and move Seychelles forward on the Blue Carbon Accreditation journey,” he added.

The Blue Carbon roadmap has therefore set a number of objectives to be achieved over a period of about five years, which will be presented to the government. Through it, local scientists should be empowered to advance blue carbon science. The roadmap will be used to connect the Seychellois community to blue carbon, mainstream it into national policy frameworks, and connect blue carbon projects to carbon markets and other financing mechanisms.