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Everyone has a carbon footprint. It refers to the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of your daily life and activities. We should care about our carbon footprint because the lower it is, the better it is for the planet.
So what is carbon sequestration?
Carbon sequestration is the capture of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to slow or reverse atmospheric CO2 pollution, and to mitigate or reverse global warming. There are a variety of ways that carbon can be sequestered. These include plants and trees absorbing it through photosynthesis, the sequestration of carbon by mangroves, absorption through the ocean and the special role that phytoplankton play.
Mangroves are powerhouses when it comes to carbon storage. According to a new study in Nature Geoscience, mangroves can sequester four times more carbon than rainforests can, but most of this carbon is stored in the soil below.
Mangrove forests also provide a number of vital ecological services such as protection from nutrient cycling, and act as a vital buffer against storm surges caused by cyclones. In addition, fish rarely breed in the deep sea because the conditions are so hostile, and so many prefer mangrove environments as they are protected against predation and strong water currents.
Our climate depends on them, however mass deforestation continues to threaten their numbers and so it is vital that we provide education on how to monitor and where possible, replant these species.
So what role do phytoplankton play?
Half of the oxygen we breathe comes from phytoplankton that are found in the ocean. These organisms consume copious amounts of carbon dioxide, just as carbon is stored in the wood and leaves of a tree. It then transforms it into oxygen during photosynthesis, subsequently emitting this oxygen back into the atmosphere.
Over time, the remains of planktonic organisms slowly sink to the bottom of the ocean, creating a layer of carbon-rich organic particles that build up and gradually transform into hydrocarbons that sit at the bottom of the ocean. As such, this becomes a huge carbon sink, allowing the sequestration of carbon to occur on a huge scale.
Protecting our oceans is of vital importance, and we’re doing just that through our mangrove restoration project on the Coast of Kenya, that helps improve water quality by filtering pollutants, while stabilising and improving soil conditions so that they are able to capture as much carbon as possible.