A Call-to-Action to support Blue Carbon projects

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March 7, 2018

Santa Cruz, CA – Sustainable Surf launches Project : ‘SeaTrees’ at the 2018 Global Wave Conference

Sustainable Surf is proud to announce the launch of our newest program for restoring and protecting the health of our global oceans and coastlines: project SeaTrees.

SeaTrees will operate as a platform to allow everyone on the planet – starting first with the 120 Million global fans of the sport of surfing – to easily support the development of coastal wetland conservation ” Blue Carbon ” projects (mangrove forest, salt marsh & seagrass ecosystems) around the world.

What’s our first audacious goal for project SeaTrees?  Planting 1 million mangrove trees in the sea within the next year.

Why is this important ? Because Blue Carbon / Coastal Wetlands projects have been identified by teams of global experts as a critical component of the “Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed To Reverse Global Warming” , that can erase the negative impacts caused by global climate change on our ocean planet.

The BAD news – these negative impacts (including ocean acidification, ocean warming, coastal erosion, etc.) , caused primarily by our own use of fossil-fuels to fuel our own lives, must be reversed.  Collectively, they are already wreaking havoc in our oceans by causing: sea levels to rapidly rise, coral reef collapse, sea-water to turn acidic, reduced biodiversity of all marine animals, and severely damaged shorelines.

The GREAT news – there is a very simple solution that can address (and even help reverse) all those impacts on our global oceans…

“Forest protection, and tropical and temperate forest restoration together, are the most powerful solutions available to address global warming.”  – P. 111 from the book DRAWDOWN: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed To Reverse Global Warming / Edited by Paul Hawken

Given that “tropical forest restoration” projects are seen as a key part of the top three “most powerful solutions available to address global warming” in the entire world, we feel it’s imperative to quickly start “reforesting” coastal ecosystems at the massive scale needed,  to reverse the worst effects of a warming global climate.

With that aim in mind – we are initially designing our SeaTrees platform as an online digital portal/website where individuals, brands and organizations can go to quickly calculate their current climate impact; and then become “Climate Positive”, by paying to plant & protect mangrove trees in a qualified Blue Carbon project.

Blue Carbon projects selected to be supported on the SeaTrees platform, will be chosen based on appropriate industry best practices for impact validation/certification, and for their ability to scale up their impact to meet the challenge ahead.Screen Shot 2018-03-21 at 4.30.10 pmThe first project that Sustainable Surf has identified as meeting those requirements for SeaTrees is the Thor Heyerdahl Climate Park  (THCP) . It’s located in the South East Asian nation of Myanmar, which has almost 4000 miles of coastline in the Indian Ocean studded with inlets, coral reefs, rocky cliffs, and hundreds of tropical islands (and yes, there is even surf there too!).

THCP is currently undergoing a third party audit to become certified under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), and once complete, will become the largest mangrove reforestation project to receive VCS certification and produce Verified Carbon Units (VCUs) for the international carbon markets. It will restore more than 2,000 hectares of degraded mangrove forest, and has already planted 3.5 million mangroves trees to date. The Park also provides 300 jobs to local villages, and supports 2000 local families with living and educational resources.

The THCP is also one of the most high-tech enabled Blue Carbon carbon projects in the world. It has pioneered mangrove planting by aerial DRONES , transparent mapping, and digital blockchain financing (in the form of TREE coins by project stakeholder Lykke) to help unlock financial support for forest conservation at the level of the individual.

And last but not least – as of this February, the UN Environmental Programme has recognized the THCP as a potential world-changing, scalable model for rapid mangrove restoration around the globe. Furthermore, the IUCN  has confirmed their intent to form a partnership with the nonprofit developer of the THCP, Worldview International , to help create more “climate parks” in Myanmar, and then scale globally. * Please see the recent project video below from Worldview International 

 

Planting by Drone (pilot project) with Bio-Carbon Engineering at the Thor Heyerdahl Climate Park in Feb 2018

“Many people, including most ocean-minded individuals, inherently understand the real value of restoring coastal ecosystems as a way to protect our oceans – and ourselves. But they need an easier and more engaging pathway to get involved. And that’s why we’re launching project: SeaTrees.”  Michael Stewart, Co-Founder / Sustainable Surf.

The Existential Threats Humans Face

We’re not going to gloss over the severity of the problems facing the health of our oceans. And if our oceans are in trouble, then so are humans; as 70% of the oxygen we breathe, and the majority of animal protein consumed in many developing countries (with the largest populations), comes directly from the sea. All the top scientific organizations around the world are gravely concerned about the existential threats to ourselves (and most other non-bacteria lifeforms) , posed by the well-documented  rapidly changing global climate. And the overwhelming scientific consensus is that we have mere decades (not 50 -100 years) to solve the issue of “global warming” , before the planet’s life support systems pass a series of tipping points that the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans can’t come back from.

And that’s if we start cultivating a “climate” of positive change today – which thankfully, we can!

In fact, we believe that the ultimate key to solving most environmental problems, including climate change, is for individuals & organizations to begin making sustainable choices in their everyday lives that are engaging, cost effective, fulfilling and yes, even perhaps fun!

Or as we simply call it – living a Deep Blue Life

 

Becoming “Climate Positive”

But, even after we have found all the ways to slash our own climate “footprint ” by making better choices on a daily basis ; most of us will still have some amount of a “carbon footprint” left over that MUST be erased.

And that’s where planting new mangrove trees through SeaTrees comes in as a “positive” step for restabilizing our planet’s “climate” that anyone  (especially those of us in the global surfing community) can take, to reverse their own climate impact on the oceans.

And even better, the benefits of planting mangrove trees and supporting Blue Carbon projects doesn’t just erase (or neutralize) your climate impact ; this type of Sustainable Development project creates a chain-reaction of “positive” benefits that: improve local water quality, control coastal erosion, increase fish stocks by 50%, protect coastlines from storms, and support local communities where the projects are located.  We consider the combination of all those interrelated benefits together as being “Climate Positive.”

So becoming Climate Positive by supporting Blue Carbon projects – is Sustainable Surf’s new vision for re-imagining how all of us can do dramatically “more good” for our oceans and coastlines; instead of just being “less bad.”

And given what’s at stake, it’s clear to us that the old story of being “Climate Neutral” is just not up to the task of regenerating and protecting the health of our ocean home.

“Conserving coastal ecosystems can benefit the atmosphere, enhanced biodiversity, water quality, and storm protection, and respect the rights and well-being of local communities, all at the same time.”  – p. 113 from the book DRAWDOWN: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed To Reverse Global Warming / Edited by Paul Hawken

What is Blue Carbon?

According to our recent collaborators at Conservation International, (who created the Blue Carbon Initiative in partnership with the United Nations in support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals): Blue Carbon is the carbon stored in the coastal and marine ecosystems, which are 5X more effective at sequestering carbon-dioxide than typical forests on land.  Mangrove forests account for 50% of the carbon sequestered in ocean sediments. They also provide crucial habitat for ocean ecosystems, and act as nurseries for fish and invertebrates that inhabit coral reefs.

Unfortunately, Mangrove forests are being cleared at an alarming rate. Over 50% of mangroves have been lost in the last 50 years, and currently account for 10% of world’s CO2 emissions from deforestation.

Bluecarbon extent

 

Bluecarbon loss

 

Planting the Seeds of the SeaTrees project

SeaTrees might be our newest program – but it’s been an old idea just waiting for the right time to be launched at Sustainable Surf, as both founders, Michael Stewart and Kevin Whilden, have been professionally involved in forest carbon projects, climate change science and advocacy for 20+ years combined.

Michael Stewart and Carbon Free Surfing program, in 2008

Sustainable Surf co-founder Michael Stewart plants the VW Forest with Volkswagen of America in 2008 while at Carbonfund.org

Before founding Sustainable Surf, Michael worked at nonprofit organization Carbonfund.org, doing project development and management for forest conservation projects. While there, he worked with Volkswagen to plant the “VW Forest” in the Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana  (which planted 270,000+ trees and sequestered 400,000+ tons of CO2 ), and helped create the Paso Pacifico “Return to Forest” conservation project in Nicaragua.

This led to Michael’s creation of the Carbon Free Surfing Program , and the partnership with SURFING Magazine in 2007 to “offset” their climate impact with certified tropical forest conservation projects,  along with (now) 11x World Champion surfer Kelly Slater.

And it’s where the idea of the global ocean community coming together to plant a “forest” together was born…

“Along with inspiring the industry, Kelly’s ultimate goal is to get all the surfers on the ASP World Tour to join in, hopefully creating a “Surf Forest” that makes the entire ASP tour “carbon neutral.” “That’ll raise some eyebrows around the world and show a responsible group of people working for the greater good of all mankind,” says Kelly Slater.”Surfing Magazine / Green Issue  2007

The original Carbon Free Surfing sticker, circa 2007

 Our Call-to-Action to support Blue Carbon conservation projects

So… let’s talk about the SeaTrees “call-to-action” introduced by Sustainable Surf co founder Michael Stewart at the 5th Global Wave Conference, during a panel presentation titled: Climate and Sustainability in the Surf Industry.

We’ll go first – Sustainable Surf is publicly committing to become Climate Positive as an organization (flying/driving/office operations) in 2018, through supporting the THCP project via the SeaTrees platform.

We’re looking forward to a groundswell of support from the rest of the global surfing community to do the same, so that together we can reach our first audacious goal – planting 1 million mangrove trees in the sea before the end of 2019. 

Given that our friends over at the World Surfing League estimated the size of their engaged audience reach in 2015 was up to 120 million individuals – it would thereby take less than 1% of the online surfing fans of the world, planting just 1 mangrove tree each in the next year,  to reach our first 1 Million mangrove tree goal.

This would be the beginning of that global “surf forest” that would surely “raise some eyebrows around the world” , about the power of surfing to inspire a “climate” of Positive Change to protect our oceans and coastlines.

And given the power that surf culture has had over the last 100+ years to influence pop culture , and to inspire the rest of the world to want to do what surfers do – we’re going to need a lot more seeds, because the impact of SeaTrees is built grow.

* Please stay tuned to our social media and newsletters, as there will be more news about when the SeaTrees online portal will be going live in early 2019 !  Can’t wait?  Send us an email at info@sustainablesurf.org