Exemplar 4. Blue Carbon on the Balearic Islands

Co-beneficiary management of marine/coastal ecosystems for Blue Carbon on the Balearic Islands. 


The Balearic Islands Exemplar aims to assess the co-beneficiary management of seagrass ecosystems for Blue Carbon around the Islands. Blue Carbon is the term used to refer to the carbon captured and stored by coastal ecosystems, including mangrove forests, tidal saltmarshes and seagrass meadows.


In order to successfully quantify Blue carbon we will asses the magnitude of seagrass carbon sinks in the Balearic islands as well as the risks of carbon emissions from these sinks if disturbed, furthermore we shall examine their role in climate change mitigation and adaptation.  In addition the socioeconomic value of seagrass meadows shall  be assessed via a range of methodologies. Lastly, we shall examine evaluate the trade-offs between the protection costs of seagrass meadows and their socioeconomic value.

Role of stakeholders

In order to effectively asses and communicate the socioeconomic value of seagrasses it is crucial to involve stakeholders, therefore this exemplar will am to include those stakeholders that are related to resource management including national and local government, local authorities, NGOs; as well as recreational and tourism orientated stakeholders.

Methods and Tools used in the case study

Methodologies included:

  • An ecological quantification of carbon to assess sink and storage capacity of seagrasses.
  • Literature reviews to quantify ecosystem services other than carbon sequestration.
  • A comparison of seagrasses across a gradient of conservation to assess the link between conservation and the provision of ecosystem services.
  • Sociocultural valuation through stakeholder interviews to ascertain social perceptions on ecosystem services.
  • Marine use change scenarios by means of stakeholder workshops.
  • A Cost-Benefit analysis.

Key findings

  • In the Balearic Islands, seagrass meadows are the most important natural carbon sink, storing in the top meter of soil 13.80 ± 4.1 Tg Corg and sequestering 19.6 ± 7 Gg Corg yr-1
  • Conservation of seagrass meadows is vital for CO2 sequestration in the region, as well as to maintain the other ecosystem services provided.

Success Factors

  • Availability of seagrass distribution maps in the region.
  • Research collaborations within OPERAs

Key Challenges

Need to consider variability in ecosystem processes and services by management options.

perationalization of ecosystem services.

Lessons Learned

Ecosystem services provide a valuable research framework to link to and define management policies aimed at the conservation of key ecosystems.


Marbà N, E. Díaz-Almela, C. M. Duarte. 2014. Mediterranean seagrass (Posidonia oceanica) loss between 1842 and 2009. Biological Conservation 176: 183–190. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2014.05.024

Duarte CM, T. Sintes, N. Marbà. 2013. Assessing the CO2 capture potential of seagrass restoration projects. Journal of Applied Ecology doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12155

Other partners

Núria Marbà

Carlos M. Duarte

Inés Mazarrasa

Iris Hendriks

Ana Ruiz

Stefan Gelcich


Project Lead contact details

Global Change Research

Núria Marbà