Is this the secret to restoring the reef?
A RESEARCH project on the Great Barrier Reef could be the key to restoring the ecosystem.
The Queensland Blue program, led by Deakin University’s Dr Micheli Costa and Blue Carbon Lab director Associate Professor Peter Macreadie, is investigating the potential levels of blue carbon stocks in the GBR.
Blue carbon refers to carbon stored in coastal wetlands through mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrasses.
Preliminary findings show Gladstone Region local government area is one of six LGAs holding almost 70 per cent of all blue carbon.
Dr Costa said studies had found the carbon storage was linked to reducing carbon concentrations that contribute to climate change.
“The wetland ecosystems with the potential to hold the carbon into their soil, enables them to hold the carbon for millions of years,” Dr Costa said.
The study has found the GBR holds more than 111 million tonnes of blue carbon stock, the equivalent of the annual emissions of about 87 million cars. Gladstone holds about 8.3 per cent of this.
“People are looking at ways to restore wetland ecosystems that were lost and restore them so they have this ability to capture carbon into the soils and with that help mitigate climate change,” Dr Costa said.
The modelling used looks at the correlation between soil samples which held carbon, environmental variables such as elevation and the possibility for human impact such as population.
“The reason that Gladstone has that amount of carbon is because you sum everything that is in that region, so within Gladstone you have regions that respond differently to those variables.”
The one risk of holding the blue carbon is if the ecosystems are damaged, whatever carbon being held is released back to the atmosphere.
The year-long project is about nine months in, with the final report due in June.