Below the water’s surface, are 17 000 species that can potentially help us in the fight against climate change that are, oddly enough, being overlooked: these are of course, the algae. Just like any other plant, algae use CO2 for photosynthesis, and thus, absorb a great amount of this greenhouse gas. And that is what brings us to the Climate Change Conference, to show just how important a role algae play and why they need to be protected.
We wanted to maintain the link with Chile (where the COP25 was originally planned to be held, before it was transfered to Spain) at our stand, so we made it a point to show some of the most impressive photographs of blue forests that can be found in that country’s waters, where Oceana is currently working towards their protection. At our stand’s exhibit, you will be able to see images from Chile of giant kelps — a symbolic species that reaches heights surpassing 30 metres — right next to species that are much closer to home that we photographed in the Aeolian Islands (north of Sicily), like single-celled green-algae or tiny rhodoliths that can live up to 100 years.
Similarly, we also made it a point to show photographs from the Mediterranean, our planet’s most “used and abused” sea. The Mediterranean boasts lush sea meadows made up of both plants and algae (like poisdonia or Cymodocea) that are a home to a great number of marine animals.
Thousands of species live in and depend upon blue forests for their survival, and that is why Oceana has fought, and continues to fight, for their protection. For example, we successfully accomplished that a forest of Laminaria rodriguezii, an endemic species to the Mediterranean, be included in the expansion of Cabrera National Park.
Marine algae cover less than 10% of the area of terrestrial forests, yet can store as much CO2 as their land-based counterparts. Blue forests are widespread across the planet, and thousands of species depend on them. The higher the level of biodiversity within blue forests, the more resilient the oceans will be in the face of destabilising threats.
Blue forests cannot absorb all of the CO2 that we emit, nor can they resolve the climate crisis. But it is critical to preserve them in order to keep our oceans full of life and to fight against climate change. Between 1% and 7% these algae forests are lost every year.
At least 30% of blue forests should be protected by 2030, and an International Action Plan should be created for their recovery.
See our StoryMap: COP25 2019 - Time For Action is Now