Delta Blue Carbon

Type of project: Forestation

In Compensate's portfolio since: 12/2022

Country: Pakistan

Carbon credits bought: 7 090

Equivalent to: 249 568 trees sequestering carbon dioxide all year round

Blue carbon, restoring degraded lands, creating employment

Project duration: 60 years (2015 - 2075)

Delta Blue Carbon is the world's largest mangrove project which aims to restore 225 000 hectares of degraded mangroves in the Indus Delta in partnership with the local communities. The project contributes to 13 out of the 17 SDGs.

The project contributes to climate change mitigation and adaptation. Mangroves are the only forest that grows in salt water and sequesters up to five times more CO2 than a rainforest. By acting as filters, mangroves clean runoff and sediments, protect coral reefs and seagrass meadows. In addition, mangrove forests increase sea food stocks. Mangroves provide a natural protection for lives and properties in vulnerable coastal communities from tsunamis, cyclones and other extreme weather. Despite their vital role, mangrove forests are disappearing three times faster than rainforests.

The project is developed and managed by the Government of Sindh and Indus Delta Capital Limited, who have entered into public- private partnership arrangements through a 60-year agreement, renewable up to 100 years for the protection, conservation and ecosystem restoration of mangrove wetlands in the Sindh Indus Delta area.

Conditions prior to the start of the project

In the past several decades, the mangrove forests in the Indus Delta have been severely deforested as a result of fuel wood and fodder collection and open range grazing by livestock driven by population pressure and short-term economic incentives. 

The project directly supports the livelihoods of 60 villages around the perimeter of the Project Area. These communities represent around 5,000 households and 43,000 individuals. Majority of communities in the project zone lack access to safe and affordable drinking water, usually getting water from seasonal lined canals having water available only during the high flood season (July-August). Villages suffer from lack of hygiene conditions resulting in different diseases. Communities also lack access to health and education facilities. Thirty-one villages in the project zone have a literacy rate less than 0.1% and 10 villages have a literacy rate up to 0.6%. 

Fishermen account for the majority of population and healthy mangrove habitats are essential for maintaining traditional fisheries. Fishing is the most important source of revenue for people living in the creeks. Hence, large-scale awareness raising about the multiple benefits healthy mangrove forests provide is needed to successfully restore the area and shift people to sustainable practices. 

As of 2018, more than 140,000 hectares of land adjacent to the Project Area was being used for agriculture, mostly to cultivate rice, followed by sugarcane and wheat. Barley, gram, oil seeds, maize, millet, cotton and jowar are other important crops. Fruits such as coconut, banana, mango and papaya are also grown. However, ongoing sea intrusion is negatively impacting the situation by turning cultivable land into barren patches.

Increasing communities’ wellbeing

To address the causes of deforestation, the project is providing local communities with improved livelihoods and access to social services, diversified income, and decreased cost of living. Between 2015 - 2021, the project employed 10 410 people for tree planting activities and supported 25% of the 35 796 fishing community. 434 community members, 50% of which women took part in land-use planning and awareness-raising activities and 15,124 including 7,662 women got access to healthcare facilities. The project also provided 400 people with 500 gallons a day of safe and affordable water for drinking and hygiene. Communities were also trained in practicing sustainable fishing, natural resource management, agriculture, and livestock grazing. In total 26 754 people benefited from improved well-being.

High biodiversity values

The Indus ecoregion is one of the 40 most biologically rich ecoregions in the world, home to unique animal and plant species. The Indus River is the main migration route of thousands of birds, which cross over the Himalayas. The region is home to 11 globally threatened species according to the IUCN Red List, including the Indus River dolphin, the Indian Ocean humpback dolphin, the Indian pangolin and the fishing cat.

The project contributes to protecting and enhancing biodiversity values through restoration and sustainable management of degraded areas, increased and effective law enforcement, awareness raising and training, and capacity-building activities. The project introduced mangroves and biodiversity Conservation Stewardship Agreements with the local communities transforming the locals into the front-line defenders for biodiversity conservation.

In the first 7 years of the project (2015 - 2021), 73 125 ha of degraded mangroves were restored through planting activities. 

Devastating floods in 2022

The province of Sindh, where the Delta Blue Carbon is located was hit hard by the 2022 floods in Pakistan. Close to 2000 people lost their lives and an additional 12,867 were injured in the worst floods in the country's history. Over 2.1 million people were left homeless. The floods were caused by the heavier than usual monsoon rains and melting glaciers the occurred after a severe heat wave. 

The devastating floods in Pakistan did not have negative impact on the project. On the contrary, the influx of fresh water and sediment boosted mangrove growth through increased soil fertility. Similar positive impacts were observed after the catastrophic floods of 2010. 

The project is providing support to the local communities affected by the floods, such as food items, water, medicine to prevent malaria outbreaks, tarpaulin to protect houses from rain, and mosquito nets. The project is also protecting the planted areas from the pressure of livestock grazing by assisting with securing alternative sources of feed as well as vaccination of the animals.

Photos courtesy of Delta Blue Carbon Project

Access project documents in Verra registry.

The project is providing support to the local communities affected by the floods, such as food items, water, medicine to prevent malaria outbreaks, a tarpaulin to protect houses from rain, and mosquito nets.

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