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Papua’s Role in World Climate Change

by Senaman
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Ecosystems, in the coastal areas of the island of Papua, must be evaluated, as the results of a study led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) scientists say that the characteristics of mangrove forests located in various coastal areas must be evaluated so that we can properly assess country-level blue carbon emission calculations.

The study results have been published in the journal Global Change Biology. The researchers conducted their study in Papua and West Papua, Indonesia’s easternmost carbon-rich provinces. The results of the study were published under the title ‘Hydrogeomorphic Settings and Land-use Change control Mangrove Blue Carbon Stocks and Dynamics’ and this journal has open access for the public.

It is known that mangrove forests exist in various ecosystems. They range from undisturbed natural settings to areas where massive land-use change has occurred. Meanwhile, Mangroves have long been recognized as a fairly significant ‘Blue Carbon’ sink. Mangroves also buffer coastal areas against erosion caused by marine activity and sea level rise against the land.

According to the results of this study, scientists showed that the carbon storage capacity of mangrove plants is highly relative and variable, depending on various factors that affect their ecology. This discovery could have an impact on Indonesia’s targets in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

It also shows that long-term mangrove regeneration has the potential to contribute to Indonesia’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). By increasing carbon stocks in mangroves and offsetting anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and land use change. It is known that nearly a quarter of all mangrove forests worldwide are located along 2.9 million hectares of coastline throughout the Indonesian archipelago. This area is known to be the size of Belgium.

About 10 percent of them are located in carbon-rich Papua and West Papua, Indonesia’s easternmost provinces. That’s equivalent to half of Indonesia’s mangrove areas. The researchers’ assessment of these blue carbon stocks and their emission and sequestration potential shows that current land management practices in Papua’s mangrove forests, such as logging and small-scale aquaculture, are significantly reducing carbon stocks.

Indonesia has a very important role in nature-based climate change mitigation policies, scientists anticipate an increase in land use change in Papua’s Mangrove forests in the future. This needs to be anticipated because it can lead to large greenhouse gas emissions and impact the NDC, which is an important part of the Paris Agreement strategy for climate change to prevent the temperature rise above the post-industrial average of 1.5 degrees Celsius or more.

Under the agreement, which was created as part of the UNFCCC, each country is required to provide data on its greenhouse gas emissions and the reduction targets it intends to achieve post-2020. Mangrove contribution is considered a nature-based solution that can help ameliorate the impact of climate change on the planet. 

Mangrove Forest Measurement Process

To achieve their findings, local and international scientists and 18 related institutions, willingly pooled resources to calculate the numbers. Their work involved comparing the carbon stocks, forest structure, and soil properties of the Mangrove Forest across 255 measured plots at four hydrogeomorphic Mangrove sampling sites. 

Hydrogeomorphic is a term that refers to the complex interaction between hydrological factors (relating to water) and geomorphological factors (relating to landforms and features). This sampling included estuarine fringe, estuarine interior, open coastal fringe, and open coastal interior mangrove. They assessed four carbon stocks, which included aboveground tree biomass carbon. Then dead wood carbon, underground root biomass carbon, and soil carbon.

The researchers measured the hydrogeomorphic regulation of land use change, tree density, number of tree species, mass density, carbon content, carbon density, and soil depth. This is the researchers’ assessment of the importance of mangrove forests on the island of Papua.

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