Mangrove conservation and restoration helps mitigate climate change in the Dominican Republic

Improving the conservation and restoration of mangroves offers a high impact solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions due to the ability of mangroves to sequester and store carbon.

The Dominican Republic is now seeking support for the preparation of a new Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) which leverages the multiple benefits of mangrove culture.

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A karst formation and mangrove in Los Haitises National Park, Dominican Republic. The region is focused on biodiversity conservation and sustainable tourism. Credit: Bienvenida Bauer/USAID (Flickr / CC)

Mangroves are trees and shrubs that have adapted to the saline conditions of tidal environments and can be found along the coasts of most major oceans. According to a 25 year study by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), ‘The World’s Mangroves 1980-2005,’ mangroves have established themselves in over 120 countries, including the Dominican Republic.

Mangroves have often been perceived simply as wastelands. However, their value is being increasingly reconsidered because they offer a number of important co-benefits in addition to their high rate of carbon sequestration and storage. They also provide a source of wood and non-wood products (such as thatch and medicine), they help conserve biological diversity by providing habitats, protect coastal settlements from hazards such as storm surges and (unlike inland forest ecosystems) the saline in the soil prevents the release of other greenhouse gases such as methane.

So deforestation of mangrove ecosystems is doubly destructive to the environment as it both releases the carbon locked away in the mangroves and soils, and also removes a highly efficient carbon capture mechanism. Taking this into account, some countries are now including mangrove conservation in their climate-change mitigation strategies.

The Dominican Republic blue carbon NAMA

According to FAO data, in the Dominican Republic, mangrove coverage declined from 34.400 hectares in 1980 to 21.215 hectares in 1998. This loss was due to a mixture of agriculture, real estate development and tourism.

This blue carbon NAMA, (so called to differentiate it from the green carbon of non-coastal forests) sets out to conserve and restore mangroves, maximizing their potential to sequester and store carbon, thus reducing the release of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. It outlines a number of objectives that will enable it to meet these goals.

First, it will seek to raise the level of understanding about the NAMA’s potential, increasing commitment to it while also leveraging, and where possible enhancing, the national level policy environment. Second, it will accurately quantify the country’s current and potential carbon sequestering and storage capacity and also look at potential carbon credit income for the Dominican Republic. Third, it will engage the private sector and communities around the country to actively support conservation and restoration efforts.

The preparatory phase of the NAMA has been divided into the following key steps:

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Samana Province, Dominican Republic. Credit: Eaulive (Flickr / CC)

1: Quantify the carbon sink capacity of mangroves in the Dominican Republic. This will be done through a comprehensive inventory and analysis of ecological conditions and carbon stocks that are intact, under threat, or notably degraded.

2: Quantified carbon sink capacity will contribute to generating emission allowances, emission credits, and other types of CO2 compensation certificates.

3: Build national and local institutional expertise to assess mangrove CO2 sequester capacity.

4: Prompt national dialogue on how to leverage carbon credits through policies and financial mechanisms that help the agriculture, fishing and tourism sectors, promoting greater competitiveness for small and medium-sized businesses.

5: Develop national strategies that engage communities, provide economic incentives and improved livelihoods for mangrove ecosystem conservation and reforestation.

6: Establish a Blue Carbon NAMA Knowledge Toolkit. This will enable knowledge transfer to other organizations in Latin America, the Caribbean and beyond facing similar development challenges.

Support required for this Dominican Republic blue carbon NAMA

This NAMA is registered with the UNFCCC NAMA Registry to attract potential support and also to share its ideas and techniques with other countries.

Currently, the Dominican Republic is looking support for the preparation of the NAMA. The help required is financial, technical and capacity building (more information on the support asked by the Dominican Republic is available here).

Financial Support for Preparation will center around the Design of the NAMA. For this phase, one or more grants will be needed. The next phase, Implementation, will begin to see the application of the carbon credit model take hold in which the NAMA will eventually earn income through international carbon markets.

The following recent article might be of interest for more background:
Global economic potential for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from mangrove loss

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