Phoebe Stewart-Sinclair is a marine ecologist and economist. Her work broadly focuses on marine conservation and climate change adaptation and mitigation through conservation of marine organisms and environments. She has worked in research in New Zealand, Australia, and the UK. Her qualifications include a Certificate in Tertiary Teaching, a BSc in Zoology and Ecology, an Honours in Zoology, a Masters in Conservation Biology, a PhD in Biology, and a PhD in Economics. At NIWA, she is a Scientist in the Marine Ecology team.
Spatial opportunity for coastal blue carbon in Aotearoa New Zealand
In the face of the global climate crisis, many countries have committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to meet international targets. To reduce net emissions, we will need to increase long term carbon sequestration, which is termed ‘blue carbon’ in marine and coastal ecosystems. Increases in blue carbon can be achieved through restoration of coastal habitats, by reinstating tidal influence to areas that are currently below high tide level. To identify where there are areas of restoration opportunity for blue carbon in Aotearoa NZ, we first identified coastal areas that are currently below high tide elevation and are currently in agricultural land use or government owned, as we assumed that urban areas would not be suitable for blue carbon projects. We then categorised the land area under high tide into low, mid, and high tide zones, which indicate the habitat type expected to colonise inundated land. To identify areas that could become suitable for blue carbon projects under sea level rise, we repeated this methodology with elevation profiles adjusted for predicted sea level rise. Here, we present these results and discuss the potential for development of a blue carbon market in NZ and implications for our national emissions accounts.