Seaweed, anyone?

Seaweed, anyone? r1 ... Subscribe to this newsletter narwhal logo BECOME A MEMBER The Bay of Fundy is known for its high tides and intricately carved out rocks. But it turns out this picturesque bay has a secret superpower: it sequesters a lot of carbon. About 14.2 million tonnes, in fact.

In the final segment of our Carbon Cache series, we delve deep into “blue carbon” — the carbon stored in ocean and coastal ecosystems like marshes, seagrasses and mangroves.

Unfortunately, like the peatlands in Ontario’s Ring of Fire and the native grasslands of the prairies, coastal ecosystems are at risk. Anywhere between 340,000 and 980,000 hectares of blue carbon ecosystems are chipped away every year around the globe. The Bay of Fundy alone has lost 85 per cent of its salt marshes due to development.

Gail Chmura, a professor at McGill University, is trying to find a way to accurately measure carbon in salt marshes. If she succeeds, this will make it easier for farmers to estimate the carbon stored on their land and qualify for carbon credits by protecting their salt marshes (learn all about carbon credits in our explainer).

Meanwhile, on the Pacific coast, one company wants to make seaweed the new avocado toast.

“It tastes … green. And crunchy,” said Cascadia Seaweed’s chairman Bill Collins.

Cascadia, working with First Nations partners like Nuu-chah-nulth Seafoods Development Corporation, plans to plant 1,000 hectares of seaweed farms along B.C.’s coastline. Scientists are still debating seaweed’s place in blue carbon, but marine vegetation can store up to 20 times the amount of carbon as terrestrial plants.

When reporter Stephanie Wood started digging into the concept of blue carbon, she found a lot of smart people leading innovative projects to give coastal ecosystems a fighting chance.

Danika van Proosdij, a professor at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, is working with the provincial government to re-flood salt marshes that were dried up by dikes. The restored marshes can act as buffer zones to prevent homes and farms from coastal flooding, in addition to storing carbon.

“It’s about building smarter and working with nature and building up natural processes,” she said.

You heard her, folks. Build smarter, work with nature … and eat your seaweed.

Emma Gilchrist
Editor-in-Chief
BECOME A NARWHAL This week in The Narwhal

Blue carbon: the climate change solution you've probably never heard of

By Stephanie Wood

Coastal ecosystems like salt marshes sequester millions of tonnes of carbon, but have been whittled away over the decades. Now Canadian scientists are looking to re-flood marshes in an effort to mitigate the impacts of sea-level rise and store carbon, and seaweed is having its moment in the spotlight. Read more.

'No mandate' from B.C. government for new protected areas: FOI docs

By Sarah Cox
The Kaska Dena have a plan to protect caribou and other endangered species while preserving their way of life, but documents released to The Narwhal show the provincial government cast doubt on the proposed Indigenous protected area while flagging ‘very important’ mining activities and potential loss of revenue for forestry industry. Read more.

Saving Western Canada's only endangered tree

By Matt Simmons
Whitebark pine is facing down the triple threat of climate change, habitat loss and disease. Restoration projects by northwest B.C. researchers may be the tree’s best chance for survival. Read more.

Meet the 8 endangered species that call northwest B.C. home

By Matt Simmons

The region is known for its wildlife, but industrial development, pollution and climate change are threatening several animals. Read more.

Note from a Narwhal Thanks so much for the shout-out, Bet! We're honoured to earn your support. Want the thrill of receiving a special package in the mail from your friends at The Narwhal? Become a member today. r33

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