Failure to protect seagrass may cost Australia $45b

Seagrass stores carbon 35 times faster than rainforests, preventing billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases escaping every year, but its crucial role in slowing climate change has been largely overlooked, experts said today.

While rainforests lock in carbon for a century at most, seagrass does so for thousands of years. When exposed to air, the the carbon-rich sediment below the seagrass meadows begins to oxidise, releasing greenhouses gases into the atmosphere and warming the globe.

About 50% of Australia’s seagrasses have been destroyed by dredging and pollution, said seagrass expert Dr Peter Macreadie, ARC DECRA Fellow at the University of Technology, Sydney (The Conversation, 2013).

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