The world’s largest blue carbon project, Delta Blue Carbon, is protecting and restoring 350,000 hectares of tidal river channels and creeks, low-lying sandy islands, mangrove forests and inter-tidal areas on the south-east coast of Sindh in Pakistan. This incredibly rich and diverse landscape provides a critical ecosystem service. It sustains productive fisheries, serves as an important feeding ground for migratory shorebirds and supports the socioeconomic livelihoods of coastal villagers who collect shellfish and crabs.
The delta area also provides fertile ground for sequestering and storing vast amounts of atmospheric carbon. The delta’s mangrove forests are the largest area of arid climate mangroves in the world but have experienced massive-scale deforestation and degradation. This is a pioneering public private partnership between the government of Sindh and a private project developer, Indus Delta Capital.
Climate change mitigation
Mangrove forests sequester 3-5 times more CO2 per hectare than upland tropical forests. The project is engaging in large scale mangrove planting across the delta. In total 220,000 hectares will be planted, the largest restoration programme in the world. To date, over 70,000 hectares have been planted. The project will operate over a 60-year lifespan and will generate over 128.5 million high-quality credits, and sequester 142 million tonnes CO2.
Theory of change
Before the project activities started, the region was in a vicious cycle of poverty and lack of access to education, clean energy and clean water. This resulted in large scale mangrove deforestation and degradation caused by an over exploitation of the mangroves for fuelwood and clearance for grazing.
The income from the sale of carbon credits from the mangrove restoration will be spent on addressing these underlying drivers of degradation by providing jobs, education, clean water and clean energy facilities to the local communities. Hence the communities will see direct benefits from restoring the landscape and creating a virtuous cycle of natural, social and economic regeneration.
Project impact areas
More than 42,000 live within the project zone and 60 coastal villages depend on the forests. The project will create 21,000 full-time jobs, as well as safe and affordable drinking water supply, community health, and gender equality initiatives. Training and capacity building for project staff, communities and local NGOs and government is improving the financial security and wellbeing of local people. Non-carbon benefits to local communities have been valued at $134 per tonne.
The improved provision of mangrove ecosystem goods and services will also improve the climate change resilience of local communities. By revitalising the degraded coastal habitat and ensuring its long-term sustainability, the project will generate substantial climate change adaptation benefits for the biodiversity in the region, such as improved protection from storm surges and other coastal hazards.
The project is in the Indus Ecoregion, identified by the WWF as a biodiversity hotpot and one of the 40 most biologically rich ecoregions in the world. The project area is home to several globally threatened species, including as a wintering ground for many species of water birds, and contains or provides habitat for 11 vulnerable or threatened species on the IUCN Red List. The project positively impacts these species of special concern by revegetating the degraded coastal ecosystem. All species used in the restoration work under the project are native to the coastal areas of Sindh.