IAS leads local mitigation of ocean acidification project in Fiji

IAS Staff Ilaisa Kacivakanadina adjusts the Ocean Acidification (OA) instrument that was deployed in Ra in October 2018.

The Institute of Applied Sciences (IAS) of The University of the South Pacific (USP) was awarded a blue carbon habitat restoration contract to pilot the use of Blue Carbon in local mitigation of Ocean Acidification (OA) in Fiji, in October this year.

The contract which is valued at USD 89,999 is funded by the Ocean Foundation as part of their blue carbon restoration initiative in the Pacific Islands.

Blue carbon refers to the ability of coastal marine ecosystems, such as mangrove forests, sea grass meadows, and saltwater marshlands, to capture carbon dioxide and store quantities of blue carbon in both the plants and the sediment below.

This leads to less dissolved carbon dioxide available in the water column to form acidic compounds. The restoration of blue carbon in coastal ecosystems can help mitigate the effects of OA on coastal communities.

The Blue Carbon restoration project will use the “GOA-ON in a Box” OA monitoring kit donated by the Ocean Foundation to monitor ocean acidification through measurement of pH both in the lab and in the field.

The project aims to monitor OA and assess the local mitigation of OA through mangrove restoration.

The proposed project sites are located in the Ra province on the main island of Viti Levu in Fiji and involves restoration work, OA monitoring, verified carbon standard measurement for soil carbon pool and laboratory analysis.

The project will continue the restoration work in Ra Province done under the Restoration of Ecosystem Services and Adaptation to Climate Change (RESCCUE) project that ended in November this year.

It seeks to plant 1 hectare of mangroves over two (2) years that will store a projected 116 tons of carbon over twenty (20) years.

The project will combine restoration work, carbonate chemistry monitoring, and verified carbon standard measurement for coastal mangrove reforestation and afforestation.

Led by Dr Katy Soapi, the IAS Manager for the Pacific Natural Products Research Centre (PNPRC) and supported by the IAS Environment Unit Scientific Officers, the project aims to understand the dynamics of OA parameters before, during and after restoration of mangrove habitat.

The project also aims to increase capacity of communities in carbon emission reduction and climate adaptation and biodiversity conservation.

Dr Soapi said that IAS has over the years developed its capabilities to implement such blue carbon restoration related projects.

She also added that this project will further build on the capacity of regional scientists in carbon sequestration and chemical and biological monitoring of ocean acidification.

The University of the South Pacific, 7 December 2018, Article.

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