Do blue carbon ecosystems directly benefit people?

Blue carbon ecosystems (coastal wetlands such as mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and tidal marshes) are characterized not only by their rapid carbon absorption and their capacity to fight climate change and offer protection from sea level rise and severe storms, but also by their multiple benefits to human well-being.

Coastal wetlands are biodiversity hotspots, providing habitat for dozens of species, including fish, sea turtles, crabs, and sharks. Healthy blue carbon ecosystems therefore support global fisheries, as well as local tourism and recreational activities such as diving, which are particularly important since the majority of tourists globally choose coastal destinations. They are also a source of raw materials, food, and animal feed, contributing to food security while enhancing pollution reduction and water filtration.

However, the countless ecosystem services provided by coastal wetlands are being severely impacted by human activities — making the work to protect and restore these blue carbon habitats even more vital.

About the author

Vasiliki I. Chalastani is a PhD candidate at the Laboratory of Harbour Works, National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), Greece. Her thesis, “Optimization Approaches for Marine Spatial Planning,” aims to develop tools for optimal use of the marine environment through reconciliation of human activities and conservation features. Previously, following her undergraduate studies as a civil engineer at NTUA, Chalastani pursued her MSc, “Water Air Pollution and Energy at Global and Regional Scales,” at École Polytechnique, Paris, France. While in France, she has completed an internship at the Laboratoire Océanographique de Villefranche and at École Normale Supérieure on ocean-based solutions. From 2018 to 2019, Chalastani acted as a consultant for the Alternate Minister of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy of Greece, Nektarios Santorinios. In 2018, she worked for the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), Paris, with Alexandre K. Magnan, on the issue of climate change adaptation. In 2019, Chalastani worked for the Saudi Red Sea Project, developing a preliminary marine spatial planning initiative, under the supervision of Carlos M. Duarte. She is a member of the National Chamber of Engineers and the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN), Greece.