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islands canary meadows danger sebadales

Sebadales meadows in the Canary Islands in danger

Sebadales meadows in the Canary Islands in danger.

The seagrass beds in the Canary Islands are in serious decline

Spanish researchers have mapped and economically assessed the stocks of blue carbon and CO2 sequestered by the sebadales of the Canary Islands. The results suggest that their stocks are declining and that, if the current trend is followed, the cost in future damages is estimated at 126 million euros, according to the scientific journal Science of the Total Environment.

Sebadal is the name given in the Canary Islands to the underwater meadows formed by the plant species Cymodocea nodosa, a key element to mitigate climate change. In the last 20 years, approximately 50% of these sebadales have been lost, although, despite the dramatic decline, 11% of the total carbon stored by this species in Spain is in the Canary Islands.

These meadows have great ecological and economic relevance for the archipelago due to the various services they offer, such as CO2 sequestration, water purification and support for marine biodiversity. In addition, they are the habitat of commercial fish species of great gastronomic interest in the Canary Islands such as "la vieja", whose survival and breeding depend on these marine plants.

The work, published in the scientific journal Science of the Total Environment, demonstrates the decline of the Canarian sebadales and their capacity for carbon storage and climate regulation, in addition to estimating the economic impacts that their disappearance could cause.

The study demonstrates the decline of the Canarian sebadales and their carbon storage capacity and climate regulation

If current trends continue, losses could reach 126 million euros in future damages (0.32% of the current GDP of the Canary Islands) in 2050 due to a possible emission of 1.43 megatons of CO2, which are currently contained in these meadows and that "would be equivalent to what 572,000 cars emit in a year, 32% of the Canarian car fleet", explains Miriam Montero, from the Rey Juan Carlos University, the institution that leads the study together with the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, explains the magazine specialized in scientific dissemination

On the contrary, if the extension of the sebadales remains stable, 0.75 megatons could be sequestered in the coming years until 2050, which would mean a saving of 73 million euros in future damages.

If the extension of the sebadales remains stable, 0.75 megatons of CO2 could be sequestered in the coming years until 2050

Blue carbon maps

"This study identifies the areas and environmental pressures on which it is necessary to act, and studies future management scenarios, giving a scientific and economic reason for the conservation of seagrasses," says Montero.

The creation of a "cartography" of blue carbon stored by Cymodocea nodosa is novel, since at present blue carbon maps are scarce and usually focused on other species of "seagrasses", such as those of the genus Posidonia, or in those shallow intertidal seagrasses, which are those that are less than 10 meters from the surface.

However, Cymodocea nodosa in the Canary Islands is an opportunistic grassland with deeper waters, so it has been studied less. This work opens the doors to a barely explored area, evaluating the CO2 storage of Cymodocea nodosa using real local data from the entire Canary archipelago, as well as high spatial resolution distribution maps of these seagrass beds.

"Our methodology generates scientific evidence to value the ecosystem created by Cymodocea nodosa and to be able to take it into account in decision-making and management," concludes the scientist.

This study is part of the efforts being carried out from Spain as part of the European project MOVE-ON Project for the mapping and assessment of ecosystem services in outermost regions and overseas territories of the EU.

link to article for pic
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