BIOMASS CARBON IN THE SOUTH MEXICAN PACIFIC COAST: EXPLORING MANGROVE POTENTIAL TO REDD+ MECHANISMS
Thursday, 18 December 2014
Mangroves have the highest carbon stocks amongst tropical forests. In Mexico, however, little is known about their potential to mitigate climate change. In this work, we estimated biomass carbon stocks in the Southern Mexican Pacific Coast (~69,000 ha). We quantified above and belowground biomass carbon stocks at (1) the regional scale along two environmental strata (i.e. dry and wet), and (2) at the local scale along three geomorphological types of mangroves (i.e. fringe, estuarine and basin). Regional strata were defined using intensity and influence of rivers and, the mean annual precipitation and evapotranspiration ratio (i.e., wet < 1 > dry). By lowering the stressing environmental conditions (e.g., low salinity and high sediment accumulation), we expected the highest stocks in mangroves growing in wet and estuarine strata at the regional scale and local scale, respectively. Quantifications were carried out in sixty-six sites chosen through stratified randomized design in which six strata were obtained by a full combination of regional and local strata. In all strata, aboveground carbon represents 64-67% of total carbon. Total biomass carbon was higher in wet than dry stratum (W: 87.3 ± 6.9, D: 47.0 ± 5.0, p<0.001). While at local scale, total biomass carbon was high in estuarine mangroves of both wet and dry regions (W: 91.6 ± 7.8, D: 77.6 ± 14.8, p<0.001), and these were statistically similar to fringe wet mangroves (110.9 ± 24.2, p<0.001), the stratum with the highest total carbon. Following a conservative approach, the Mexican Southern Pacific Coast is storing near 20,344 Gg CO2e. If the historical annual deforestation rate of 0.54% continues, this region could emit between 0.03 and 14.4 Gg of CO2e ha/year, out of which wet estuarine mangroves would have the highest emission values. Evidence suggests that these mangroves are the most important strata in which REDD+ mechanisms could be implemented due to (1) their carbon stocks, and (2) their highest deforestation threat in the region as a result of commercial agriculture. Strategies for conservation and enhancement of carbon stocks in these mangroves require strengthened links between carbon and economic benefits that ecosystems provide.