Collaborative report on the state of blue carbon knowledge in Canada released today


Coastal ecosystems store an incredible amount of carbon and can support wildlife and coastal communities


TORONTO — This World Oceans Day, WWF-Canada is celebrating the launch of a milestone collaborative report on coastal blue carbon ecosystems in Canada. Global evidence suggests that these ecosystems have tremendous value both ecologically and as part of the solution to climate change, but we also know that we are losing them quickly.

Blue carbon has been understudied in Canada, making this report timely as we deal with the dual crises of biodiversity and climate change. This first Canadian state-of-knowledge report was collaboratively written and reviewed by more than 40 experts from academia, NGOs, government and other sectors. It covers topics including the carbon dynamics of coastal ecosystems, conservation finance, Indigenous Law, and policy and legislation, among others.

While blue carbon is a relatively new field of study, we know that some coastal ecosystems can absorb more carbon per unit area than tropical forests. We also know that we’ve already lost a significant quantity of coastal ecosystems, which store carbon and provide important wildlife habitat. For example, 19 per cent of global seagrass cover has been lost since 1880, and in Atlantic Canada, as much as 31 per cent of surveyed eelgrass meadows have declined in size. In B.C., as much as 70 per cent of salt marshes have disappeared across the province.

We must protect the blue carbon ecosystems that are left and restore the ones that have already been lost. These ecosystems are particularly important in Canada, which has more than 240,000 kilometres of coastline, the longest in the world. Coastal ecosystems — salt marshes, seagrass meadows and kelp forests — provide crucial habitat for wildlife and are important to First Nations, Inuit and Métis, as well as local communities.

Gaps in our shared understanding of blue carbon ecosystems have prevented action from being taken to protect and restore them. The inclusion of coastal blue carbon ecosystems in current Canadian policies, frameworks and legislation is critical to the protection of these valuable habitats.

“As we continue to learn more about how blue carbon ecosystems help to fight climate change, we’ll need to build our understanding and take action based on both scientific and Indigenous knowledge. We must also work with policymakers to facilitate the protection and restoration of coastal ecosystems. No-regret actions, such as protected and conserved areas in regions with extensive blue carbon, can meaningfully benefit biodiversity and climate if implemented immediately,” says Megan Leslie, WWF-Canada president and CEO.

In Canada, coastal Indigenous Peoples have long-standing relationships with their lands and waters and a deep understanding of the interconnected nature of terrestrial and marine systems; this knowledge must be woven together with science and policy to truly understand blue carbon.

WWF-Canada is supporting scientific research as well as Indigenous- and community-led efforts to protect, steward and restore coastal ecosystems, and this report is a step forward for this exciting field of research.

The report launch means that blue carbon practitioners and decision makers from coast to coast to coast now have a comprehensive reference to guide their work. It is also a resource that journalists and educators can use to develop their own materials on the topic.


About WWF-Canada

WWF-Canada is committed to equitable and effective conservation actions that restore nature, reverse wildlife loss and fight climate change. We draw on scientific analysis and Indigenous guidance to ensure all our efforts connect to a single goal: a future where wildlife, nature and people thrive. For more information visit


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