Joint media release: Measuring benefits of blue carbon ecosystems

25 August 2022

The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for the Environment and Water
The Hon Andrew Leigh MP, Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury  

A new project capturing information about the environmental and economic benefits of blue carbon ecosystems will improve our understanding of our relationship with the ocean.

For the first time, Australia has today released the National Ocean Ecosystem Account which collects information on carbon storage and coastal protection benefits of Australia’s mangroves and seagrass, known as blue carbon ecosystems.

Australia is home to about 12 percent of the world’s blue carbon ecosystems. These ecosystems are up to five times better at storing carbon than rainforests.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics have estimated that in 2021 mangroves and seagrass sequestered over 14 million tonnes of carbon. The amount of carbon sequestered is equivalent to the amount of carbon emitted by over 4 million cars.
The new data also found 18,000km of Australia’s coastline is being protected by wide stands of mangroves, offering protection from natural hazards to 85,000 homes and 175,000 people.

This new data is the result of a strong partnership between the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, and will help inform evidence-based policy. 

In June, the Government announced increased support for blue carbon ecosystems by investing $9.5 million to support five new practical restoration projects and endorsed the Joint Declaration on the Creation of a Global Coalition for Blue Carbon.

 Quotes attributable to the Minister for the Environment and Water, the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP:

“Up to 50 percent of our planet’s coastal ecosystems have been lost over the last century.

 “There is no such thing as a healthy environment or healthy oceans without action on climate change. And we can’t tackle climate change without action on our oceans.

“Blue carbon ecosystems support marine life, contribute to coastal livelihoods, and provide protection from storm surges. But they also absorb carbon from the atmosphere and store it in their soils, roots and plants.

“We’re improving our understanding of Australia’s blue carbon ecosystems by using ocean accounting.

“The information collected will inform decision making to ensure blue carbon ecosystems thrive.”

Quotes attributable to Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury, the Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP:

“This is the ultimate sea change. Ocean Accounts organise data so we can describe the complex environmental and economic systems present in our oceans. 

“We will use the Accounts to help inform decisions about how we manage our blue carbon ecosystems that underpin Australian marine industries.

“Good information guides good policy – we need the right evidence to help us protect vital ecosystems and address the challenge of climate change.”