Keep it Fresh or Salty - An introductory guide to financing wetland carbon programs and projects

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Wetlands have been the focus of conservation and restoration efforts for over a century. A diverse portfolio of financing sources has been used for supporting such activities including philanthropy, multi- and bilateral aid, in-country governmental funding, tourismrelated and other usage fees, as well as fees and levies associated with wetlands-centric extractive industries (e.g. peat extraction).

Wetlands conservation and restoration efforts are aimed at generating benefits and services to local communities and biodiversity, as well as to the fisheries, forestry and tourism sectors. Better wetland management also provides, amongst others, flood attenuation and wastewater treatment services, erosion control, and buffering against rising sea level and storm damage.

Governments, international actors (NGOs and academia) and local communities around the world are now increasingly engaging in wetland restoration or avoiding wetland degradation activities for climate change mitigation. Better carbon management of freshwater wetlands, such as peatlands, and saltwater wetlands (mangroves, tidal salt marshes and seagrass meadows), enhance carbon sequestration and can avoid greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, in addition to providing co-benefits to local communities and biodiversity.

Unlike in the case of terrestrial ecosystems, supporting conservation and restoration of wetlands, especially coastal wetlands, through financial mechanisms for climate change mitigation (carbon sequestration/ avoided emissions) is still in its infancy.1 Activities such as peatland rehabilitation to reduce emission are also not yet widespread.

Despite the rapidly growing attention on wetland activities for climate change mitigation, finding the appropriate funding sources to set up a wetland carbon project or develop a national wetland carbon program is often a challenge. And after finding a possible funding window, project implementers in these systems must subsequently often interpret and adapt information designed for terrestrial systems to wetlands, especially for the application in coastal marine systems. This can be demanding, especially for coastal and marine managers who might have little experience in forest management and very little exposure to the necessities of meeting requirements for carbon financing.

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