A report from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has reinforced the importance of restoring and creating wetland habitats, such as saltmarsh, in order to combat climate change as well as deliver multiple other benefits.
The IPCC, the UN’s body for assessing the science on climate change, has published a report looking into methods for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Their report has found that restoring coastal wetlands, such as saltmarsh, has the potential to remove carbon from the atmosphere in order to help fight the climate crisis. The report also highlights that restoring coastal wetlands brings multiple other benefits, such as restoring biodiversity.
This UN reports shows us the importance of restoring the UK’s saltmarsh habitats to help the UK reach Net Zero by 2050. There is currently a large gap between current government policies to reduce carbon emissions and the reductions needed to reach net zero.1 Saltmarsh is a nature-based solution to closing this gap now, without waiting for carbon capture and storage technologies which aren’t available. WWT’s 250ha saltmarsh at Steart Marshes is storing the equivalent of over 17,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year which is equivalent to growing over 280,000 tree saplings for 10 years.2
Tom Fewins, WWT’s Head of Policy & Advocacy, said “This report demonstrates the importance of restoring and creating saltmarsh in the UK. Saltmarsh stores carbon faster than forests and is a nature-based solution to the climate crisis available right now. The government should accelerate its support for this crucial wetland habitat”
WWT is calling for a Blue Recovery, with the creation or restoration of 100,000 hectares of healthy wetlands across the country. This includes calling for the creation and restoration 22,000ha of Saltmarsh, a recommendation which aligns with the Natural Capital Committee’s advice to the Government.3 Not only would this address the climate crisis but would also help fix the biodiversity crisis, reduce flood risk to coastal communities, and reconnect people with nature, boosting wellbeing.
However, WWT cannot unlock the potential of saltmarsh to fight climate change alone. We need support from the government to restore and create saltmarsh and accelerate private investment. We are calling for:
These policies would allow the UK to take full advantage of the opportunities outlined by the IPCC.