Wetlands restoration benefits for carbon sequestration

A Blue Carbon Assessment for the Stillaguamish River Estuary: Quantifying the Benefits of Tidal Marsh Restoration

To gauge potential carbon sequestration in Northwest estuaries, researchers measure stored carbon in a Stillaguamish River saltmarsh restoration, and how fast it accumulates.

Principal Investigator

John Rybczyk, Western Washington University

Co-Principal Investigators

Katrina Poppe, Western Washington University


Carbon sequestration has emerged as an important consideration in coastal resource management and a prospective source of restoration funding through carbon finance mechanisms. But Northwest land managers and policymakers lack site-specific and regionwide information they need to value sequestration. This project will assess the carbon stocks contained in regional tidal marshes and the rate at which they accumulate by estimating the amount of carbon sequestered following the restoration of a degraded marsh in Port Susan Bay. Researchers will measure carbon in aboveground plant biomass and in sediment cores from five zones ranging from healthy, undisturbed marsh to a regenerating, rapidly accreting restoration zone. They will continue monitoring changes in surface elevation throughout the estuary to validate long-term accretion rates obtained from soil-core chemical analyses. The results will enable managers and planners to incorporate blue-carbon accounting in their climate adaptation and coastal restoration strategies.