Scientists from the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) have produced a new report for the UK Government, setting out what additional data and information would need to be collected in order to facilitate the addition of coastal wetlands to the UK emissions inventory.

Coastal wetlands can play an effective role in climate change adaptation and mitigation by protecting shorelines and material assets from flooding and storm damage, and trapping and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Including this habitat in the inventory would support the monitoring and reduction of emissions, contributing to reaching net zero targets. 

The report, produced for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and authored by Annette Burden and Hannah Clilverd of UKCEH, builds on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 2013 Wetlands Supplement and focuses on saltmarshes.

Specifically, the authors recommend that in order for this habitat to be considered for inclusion in the UK emissions inventory:
1.    We need to develop a unified UK-wide habitat map to enable tracking of changes in coastal wetlands over time. There are several existing data sources, but these are currently incomplete and there are discrepancies among them. 
2.    We need to collect additional data on how saltmarsh restoration sites change over time. Specifically, we need to measure changes to habitat extent and how soon saltmarsh vegetation covers bare mud flats. 
3.    We need to take a coordinated approach and use standardised methods to fill in knowledge gaps about carbon sequestration and storage within coastal wetlands. 

Annette Burden says: “Saltmarshes are a natural carbon store, so anything we can do to protect and enhance the benefits they provide, positively embraces a nature-based solutions to climate change mitigation and adaptation. Further research is underway to more fully understand carbon dynamics within this habitat, including measurement of greenhouse gas emissions and water-borne carbon fluxes.”

UKCEH scientists are also leading a consortium to develop and pilot a UK Saltmarsh Carbon Code, a rigorous and scientifically-based voluntary certification standard, enabling saltmarsh carbon to be marketed and purchased by private investors, thus providing an income stream for restoration projects and supporting the achievement of national net zero goals.

The report, Moving towards the inclusion of coastal wetlands in the UK LULUCF inventory, is available via the NAEI website.