In a Jan. 26, 2021, letter, The Pew Charitable Trusts urged the Oregon Global Warming Commission to include coastal “blue carbon” habitats in an upcoming assessment of carbon storage opportunities in the state. The review, which would be the first of its kind in Oregon, is intended to harness the power of forest, farm, ranch, grassland, and wetland ecosystems to help combat climate change.
In 2020, Gov. Kate Brown (D) set ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through multiple pathways, including enhancing the capture and storage of atmospheric carbon in state lands and soils. In coastal wetland ecosystems, this process is known as “blue carbon.” In its letter, Pew emphasized several ways that inventorying these valuable habitats and including their contributions in the state’s climate goals can benefit residents and nature.
Although the state’s tidal wetlands and seagrass beds are relatively small compared with other lands such as forests, the letter pointed out that they can store up to 10 times as much carbon as forests and also buffer coastal communities against sea level rise and flooding, filter pollutants from the water, and provide habitat for commercially and ecologically important fish and other wildlife.