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What is the GEF Blue Forests Project?

Against this background of continuing global degradation and over-exploitation of coastal blue forests resources, there is a vital need to advance an holistic, integrated approach to blue forests science and to better coordinate international action. This four year project, combining research, policy development, technical advice and practical tools coupled with the small-scale interventions provide such an approach and aims to demonstrate how the incorporation of carbon and other ecosystem services values into local and national financial markets and coastal management plans can ensure the long-term protection of Blue Forest ecosystems.

Although many advances have been made in the last few years, there are still many challenges associated with unlocking the values of coastal carbon and ecosystem services and converting them into options for improved ecosystem management revenue. The science still contains many gaps, there are very few ‘proof of concept’ on-the-ground examples around the world, and the international community still does not fully recognize the value of these systems for climate change mitigation or adaptation. These hurdles need to be overcome in order to affect a global impact on coastal ecosystem management and sustainability.

The Blue Forests Project will build on existing activities in selected countries (Ecuador, Indonesia, Madagascar and Mozambique, and the United Arab Emirates) to ‘push’ the blue forests concept - the promotion of better coastal ecosystem management by harnessing the values associated with carbon and other ecosystem services - from theory to practical application. This will be accomplished through support to targeted research on coastal carbon and the valuation of ecosystem services, through analyses of possible policy actions, and through information sharing that will help global replication of the concept. These countries show great potential for the blue forests concept to succeed due to their natural blue forests resources, the political will of the governments, and the existing activities that have already been undertaken by the project partners.