Presented by Karen Richardson of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation.
Blue carbon denotes the long-term storage of carbon within plant habitats growing in coastal lands and nearshore marine environments. With support from the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, maps of blue carbon habitats- seagrass, salt marsh, and mangroves- on the coasts of Canada, Mexico and the United States were collected, verified and compiled to create the first continent-wide collection of blue carbon habitat maps. These maps show that seagrasses grow coastally throughout North America, mangroves are primarily tropical, and salt marshes are primarily temperate/arctic. A geodatabase was established, metadata were documented, and data and methodological gaps were assessed along with challenges in identifying the extent of these habitats. The maps compiled for North America document 24,200 km2 of seagrass, 13,500 km2 of salt marsh, and 10,100 km2 of mangrove. Only half of the continent’s seagrasses have been mapped, and priority sites were identified for future mapping. The area of blue carbon habitat within marine protected areas and terrestrial protected areas was also determined, and an initial analysis of priority areas in all three habitats for blue carbon preservation, restoration and management was conducted.