You wade in the sea around the island? You know, then. It’s everywhere. Drumbeg, Whalebone, Sandwell… on and on. It brushes your legs as you walk about in the shallows, and waves about in the water as the tide comes in. It’s eel-grass, or sea-grass. And here’s an article on its importance from New Scientist: Mowing down seagrass meadows will cut loose carbon.
They may be trickier than trees for environmental protesters to chain themselves to, but it turns out that seagrass ecosystems hold as much carbon per hectare as the world’s forests – and are now among its most threatened ecosystems.
In the past century, 29 per cent of seagrass has been destroyed globally, mostly by water pollution, dredging for new developments, and climate change. With seagrass meadows disappearing at an annual rate of about 1.5 per cent, 299 million tonnes of carbon are also released back into the environment each year, according to research published this week in Nature Geoscience (DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1477).
Piecing together old and new data from 946 seagrass meadows around the world, an international team of researchers estimated that seagrass captures 27.4 million tonnes of carbon each year, burying it in the soil below. And unlike forests that hold carbon for about 60 years then release it again, seagrass ecosystems have been capturing and storing carbon since the last ice age. [continue]
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