University of St Andrews

Blue Carbon limits climate change

Friday 03 February 2017

SGSD researchers Craig Smeaton and Bill Austin have contributed to a major commissioned study of Scotland’s Marine Protected Areas (MPA) network, published today (03/02/2017) by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

The study highlights the vital role of these coastal ecosystems in trapping and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that would otherwise contribute to climate change. Bill and Craig led work on the very significant carbon stores held in the sediments associated with Scotland’s MPA network and commenting on the wider significance of these findings, noted Scottish marine sediments hold a vast, largely unaccounted component of Scotland’s marine carbon resource, representing a large proportion of the total UK stock.”

This study builds on the SNH Commissioned Report 761: Assessment of carbon budgets and potential blue carbon stores in Scotland's coastal and marine environment.The blue carbon resources in the Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas and Special Areas of Conservation in Scotland's inshore waters were estimated. Blue carbon habitats in the inshore MPA network are estimated to produce a minimum of 248000T of organic carbon and 30000T inorganic carbon per year, and the sediment stores in the inshore MPAs accumulate 126000T organic carbon and 348000T inorganic carbon per year. MPAs provide valuable protection to many marine habitats and species and therefore integrating the carbon value of such habitats into decisions relating to marine management would potentially improve the protection provided to these habitats and further enhance their capacity to provide a carbon sink.

For further information, please select the Scottish Natural Heritage website.

The photo below by Craig Smeaton shows Loch Sunart and the Sound of Mull.

Photo of Loch Sunart-Sound of Mull