Restoring coastal wetlands to fight climate change

The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy is excited to announce a new partnership with Smartgroup, which will allow customers who offset the carbon emissions of their leased vehicles to contribute to the restoration of a coastal wetland in South Australia.

Most carbon capture projects in Australia involve planting trees, but The Nature Conservancy is providing another option: blue carbon. The process involves restoring coastal wetlands such as mangroves and seagrasses to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the vegetation and roots of wetlands plants. The wetlands also trap carbon that flows down from the catchment and prevent it from washing out to sea, acting just like a natural ‘carbon filter’ and amplifying the rate of carbon sequestration.

The Nature Conservancy is at the forefront of blue carbon in Australia.

Partnering with The Nature Conservancy allows Smartgroup, a leading national provider of novated car leasing, to expand their carbon offset program and significantly grow their impact in South Australia.

Dr Chris Gillies, The Nature Conservancy’s Program Director Oceans, welcomed Smartgroup’s support of this important carbon capture project.

“Smartgroup is one of the first Australian companies to invest in a blue carbon project and their support will allow us to restore a coastal wetland to become an effective carbon sink,” Chris said.

He said the potential of the Adelaide Coastal Wetlands Restoration Project was “extraordinary”.

“The restoration of a typical 360 ha coastal wetland could result in the capture of 9000 tonnes of carbon. That’s equivalent to taking 7000 cars off our roads for a year, making it an incredible opportunity to tackle climate change,” Chris said.

Coastal wetlands can capture and store carbon at a greater rate compared to forests, and they are one of the few habitats that can continuously sequester carbon in soil for millennia.

Smartgroup CEO, Tim Looi, said the organisation was pleased to announce the broadening of its customer carbon offset program nationally, by partnering with The Nature Conservancy in South Australia, as well as with Carbon Positive Australia in Western Australia. These two new partners complement Smartgroup’s existing carbon offset partnership with Greenfleet Australia.

“Customers offsetting vehicle emissions can be proud of what has been achieved with their support since we launched our carbon offset program in 2008,” Tim said.

“We hope to encourage even more of our customers to offset their car emissions and contribute to the important work of Greenfleet, Carbon Positive Australia and The Nature Conservancy.”

The Nature Conservancy has been working with coastal ecologists to select a site that will have the biggest impact for the local environment, as well as carbon capture and storage. They plan to announce the specific site in coming weeks.

The site will adjoin the northern boundary of the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary, a critically important habitat for many Australian and migratory birds. Around 15,000 shorebirds gather here for up to six months each year before migrating to breeding grounds in China, Siberia and elsewhere in East Asia. Expanding the habitat available to these birds will strengthen global conservation efforts along one of the world’s three great migratory bird flight paths.

Over the next year, the team will restore natural tidal flow to the wetlands, which will expand the area where mangroves and saltmarsh can grow.

/Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length.