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Here is why we should all care for saltmarshes wellbeing

3.06.22

According to new scientific research, salt marshes turn out to be one of the best
mitigating tools to fight climate change. Largely underestimated until now, studies
show how saltmarshes can store carbon from the atmosphere up to fifty times
faster than other ecosystems. In an increasingly hot world, where last month’s
temperatures were 0.3 degrees Celsius above the 1991-2020 average, this might be
a very precious discovery. Despite being worried for the whole planet, some
hotspots have been registered: Argentina for example set 75 new high temperatures
records in January, whereas in some parts of Europe and the US the average
temperature was way colder than usual.

But what is the role of saltmarshes in all of this? Being rich in biodiversity,
saltmarshes act as both natural barriers to storms and carbon sequesters at a rate
50 times faster than other ecosystems, like tropical forests. This is made possible
through a very simple process: firstly, the plants capture CO2 while growing, then,
being continuously flooded by sediment-rich tides, foliage and roots are buried in
the mud.

Among many other places, Venice is the perfect place to observe ad study such
unique environs. There are 43 km2 of marshland surrounding the lagunar city,
sequestering up to 25% of the CO2 derived from the boat traffic. If the wetlands
level was to stay the same as two hundred years ago – over 180km2 – it would
offset the entire boat emissions.

Sadly enough, the potential of these ecosystems is still largely underestimated.
Even if studies precisely identify the best plants, the soil of environmental conditions
for sequestering, we should all care to avoid their erosion. After all, they might even
save us from our own emissions.