Jewell Tomazin / Daytona Beach News-Journal

FL - 'Blue Carbon' Could Help Preserve Volusia, Flagler, St Johns Fragile Coastal Ecosystems

Daytona Beach is synonymous with its wide, flat expanse of beach meeting the waves of the Atlantic, and landward, the marshes of the Intracoastal Waterway, the vibrant Mosquito Lagoon, and the palm-lined Tomoka River.

Yet with every passing day, with sea level rise and storm surge, we are losing pieces of this natural wealth, our area’s defining character — and economic foundation. Ironically, these same vulnerable resources also present one of our best opportunities to meet the challenges of climate change head on.

Because we do know this: coastal communities with blue carbon ecosystems are better protected. Blue carbon, defined as the carbon stored in water-dependent plants, comes in the form of tidal marshes, mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and more. They provide a silent service, capturing carbon from emissions that would otherwise contribute to climate change, while acting as nurseries for our fish, improving water quality, and protecting our shorelines. Right now in Congress, the Blue Carbon for Our Planet Act, co-sponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), would invest in studying, protecting and restoring blue carbon resources like these right here in Volusia County, helping fight climate change and at the same time protect our communities from  hurricanes and storm surge.

Florida has a lot to gain from the Blue Carbon for Our Planet Act, as the state with the most opportunity to capitalize on the blue carbon ecosystems we already have and treasure.

We also have some of the most to lose. In a recent report by the Brookings Institution, researchers projected that climate change impacts could cost Daytona Beach more than almost any other city in the country with an economic contraction of almost 13%.

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