This September the Coastal Resources Center hosted a friendly yet focused group of scientists and managers from Indonesia for a training course on blue carbon. What is blue carbon? Well, as carbon dioxide levels continue to increase in the atmosphere, nations are looking for ways to do their part to offset carbon emissions, also known as reducing their “carbon footprint”. Blue carbon, is carbon that is stored in coastal and marine ecosystems, and Indonesia is well-endowed with coastal ocean organic matter, having the largest extent of mangrove forests on Earth. In addition to being important areas for carbon sequestration, mangroves are critical habitat for healthy fisheries, biodiversity and erosion protection. However, deforestation in Indonesia and other countries for palm oil and fish farm harvesting is leading to rapid mangrove losses around the world. As part of the two-week training course, the group engaged in lectures, labs and field trips to local RI sites to learn about various aspects of carbon and coastal management.
The Indonesian government supported 14 participants from various provinces to study and think about blue carbon science, economics and policy. Glenn Ricci and Kim Kaine managed the complex course logistics. Classes and trips were led by CRC’s Azure Cygler, Peter Freeman, Cathy McNally, Glenn Ricci, Don Robadue and Director J.P. Walsh as well as Emi Uchita from URI’s Department of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics. Participants also benefited from interactions with local and visiting experts including Drs. David Lagomasino (NASA and Univ. of Maryland), Simon Engelhart (URI Geosiences), and Chaitlin Chaffee, Coastal Policy Analyst for the RI Coastal Resources Management Council. The course was enjoyable for all, and participants and CRC staff look forward to future collaborations to help address these complex coastal issues.