The potential for carbon captured by coastal ecosystems—known as “blue carbon”—to contribute to net zero ambitions through processes like saltmarsh restoration, is attracting great interest. Jacobs is bringing its global expertise of drafting carbon codes and designing nature-based solutions that restore coastal ecosystems to the partnership developing and trialing the U.K. carbon code for saltmarshes.
Supported by the U.K. Government’s new Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund (NEIRF), the project will develop scientific and revenue models, plus a certification scheme for U.K. projects wanting to attract private investment by selling the carbon benefits from restoring saltmarshes. Jacobs forms part of a distinguished team led by the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) that includes the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the University of St Andrews, Bangor University, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) National Committee U.K., and Finance Earth.
This carbon code project is set to pave the way for significant investment in restoring the U.K.’s saltmarshes, which will help mitigate climate change, support biodiversity and reduce flood risk. Coastal wetland habitats—through the build-up of sediment and vegetation—trap and bury carbon at a greater rate per area than terrestrial habitats such as forests or peatlands. Significant areas of coastal saltmarsh have been lost due to land claim since Roman times and concerns remain over potential losses caused by sea level rise and the presence of coastal defences.
A growing number of organizations are committed to achieving net zero by reducing their carbon emissions and offsetting the impacts of essential activities (which may include buying verified carbon credits). The planned U.K. Saltmarsh Carbon Code will operate on a similar basis to the Peatland Code and Woodland Code, paving the way for up to $1.39 billion (£1 billion) of private investment in restoration projects over 25 years, covering up to 22,000 hectares (54,363 acres) of habitat.
Jacobs developed the world’s first carbon code for coastal wetlands in 2014 and brings extensive experience with coastal ecosystem restoration and climate change adaptation and mitigation.