Coastal Carbon Opportunities: demonstrating additionality and potential for future offsets in South Australia
Professor Bronwyn Gillanders, University of Adelaide
University of Adelaide, CSIRO, SA Water, Department for Environment and Water (DEW)
This project focused on demonstrating additionality and potential for future offsets from coastal ecosystems (in seagrass, mangrove and saltmarsh environments). Baseline carbon stocks and carbon storage dynamics were estimated at case study sites within South Australian coastal carbon ecosystems - baseline information is essential for determining net gains in carbon storage. The data collected from South Australian systems will contribute to providing appropriate default values for use in calculating offsets, rather than using national or international values that could lead to lower carbon credits.
Progress Update and Key Findings
The project generated data on carbon stocks and sequestration rates from South Australian coastal carbon systems that was used to test existing and emerging Emission Reduction Fund methodologies. It has provided robust regional default values that were not previously available for South Australian coastal carbon systems, which will facilitate access to carbon credits through offsetting schemes. As such, our research will support the potential for carbon offsets from coastal environments and provide scientific knowledge to support policy objectives around the Carbon Neutral Adelaide (2020) and Net Zero Emissions by 2050 targets.
Adoption and Impact
The proof-of-concept case studies generated by this project have tested new, and have refined existing, methodologies for coastal carbon assessment. The results are paving the way for a broader scale rollout of similar work to other areas across the State and country, when additional funding becomes available. The research will deliver outcomes that support the assessment of land-sector (and/or coastal zone) carbon sequestration and emissions abatement opportunities in South Australia and beyond.
The meta-analysis of co-benefits will provide data to support the optimisation of carbon offset schemes through consideration of the dollar-value of co-benefits. This analysis will also deepen understanding of the interconnectedness of critical terrestrial-coastal ecosystem linkages.
The Coastal Carbon Opportunities project is among the first to research climate change mitigation in coastal systems. The Goyder Institute for Water Research team, led by Professor Bronwyn Gillanders (University of Adelaide), are investigating the potential of South Australian coastal ecosystems (seagrass, mangrove and saltmarsh) for carbon sequestration and storage.
Blue carbon ecosystems like seagrasses, mangroves and tidal saltmarshes have exceptional capacity to sequester carbon dioxide. Compared to many terrestrial forests, these coastal vegetation communities can accumulate carbon at faster rates and store it for longer periods, making them an important tool to combat climate change.
A report released this month by the Goyder Institute for Water Research summarises the most comprehensive data available for blue carbon in South Australia, outlining the blue carbon ecosystems within the state and their estimated blue carbon stocks and sequestration rates.