Standard Presentation (15 mins) Australian Marine Sciences Association 2022

Coastal wetland restoration for blue carbon in northern Australia (#91)

Valerie Hagger 1 , Phoebe Stewart-Sinclair 1 , Catherine E Lovelock 1
  1. The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, Australia

Investment in restoration of coastal wetland ecosystems is increasing due to habitat loss, declines in water quality and fish catches, coastal inundation and erosion, and climate change. Coastal wetlands, including mangroves, saltmarshes, seagrasses and tidal freshwater forests are known to sequester significant amounts of carbon dioxide contributing to blue carbon stocks. Australia has large blue carbon stocks, many of which have been degraded or converted since European colonisation, and which provide opportunities for restoration for carbon credits that could provide income incentives to landholders and Traditional Owners. We are developing a framework to identify coastal wetland restoration sites for blue carbon projects based on a value-based framework that considers biophysical suitability, economic feasibility, wetland values, benefits to Traditional Owners, and regulatory adequacy. We are applying this framework in three case study regions in QLD, south-west WA and east Kimberley WA. In this talk I will identify the opportunity for tidal restoration of coastal wetlands in different climatic and farming contexts in northern Australia and the variation in economic feasibility. I will describe the approach to select sites that are economically feasible and valued for biodiversity, fisheries, nitrogen removal and flood mitigation, and identify issues with data availability across Australia.