Korean officials visit Australia for blue carbon exchange

Australian and Korean government officials met recently in Canberra, Australia to share knowledge about incorporating coastal ecosystems in national greenhouse gas inventories.

The exchange was hosted by the Australian Government’s Department of the Environment and Energy on 16 April 2018. It provided in-depth sessions on Australia’s policy and technical approach for reporting emissions and removals from mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrasses.

Australia is progressively implementing the 2013 Supplement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories: Wetlands (the ‘Wetlands Supplement’), and Korea is getting ready to undertake a similar process.

The visiting delegation of six officials represented Korea’s Marine Environment Management Corporation (KOEM), Institute of Ocean and Science Technology (KIOST) and Environmental Science and Technology Institute (KESTI).

Korean and Australian officials make the Korean symbol for love – all for blue carbon! Photo credit: KOEM 2018.

DOEE opened the workshop with an overview of its approaches to accounting for emissions and removals by its abundant coastal ecosystems: mangrove forests occupy an estimated 913,000 hectares around the coastline. Tidal marshes comprise an estimated area of 1.4 million hectares. Seagrasses are the largest and most uncertain of the coastal wetland ecosystems, covering between 5 and 9 million hectares.

Australian mangrove forests are captured in the same Landsat imagery used to map spatial and temporal changes in terrestrial forest cover. Observed conversions, or other land-use changes, are then accounted for using regionally appropriate parameter values. States and consultancies contribute activity data and vegetation cover surveys for tidal marshes and seagrasses, and modelling is applied to determine impacts on ecosystems.

KOEM presented its five year blue carbon research plan, begun last year and due to run until 2021, which focuses on the specific coastal ecosystems in Korea such as mudflats, halophytes, and seagrass meadows. The plan includes three main streams of work which will be developed in parallel: 1) establish the necessary information systems and databases 2) understand the carbon cycle, through demonstration sites and accounting methods, and 3) implement a new blue carbon management strategy, informed by the experiences of others.

To complete the policy picture, Australia described the functions of its national Emissions Reduction Fund, and described its international capacity building work on measurement, reporting and verification in Thailand as an example of how national inventories can be developed collaboratively.

Everybody was eager to continue the dialogue, agreeing to seek out opportunities to collaborate again, including at COP24.

Australia is hosting an event ‘Incorporating Coastal Wetlands into Inventories’ on 12-13 July, 2018 in Brisbane Australia – which will delve into greater detail on the Wetlands Supplement, informed by lessons from others.

Get in touch with the Partnership if you would like to find out more.