Target setting

protecting and restoring 'blue carbon' ecosystems

Target Setting for Conservation of Mangroves and Seagrass Web App


Coastal ‘blue carbon’ ecosystems play a critical role in mitigating the worsening climate crisis, making their restoration a global priority. We paired ecosystem surveillance with maths to estimate global recovery of coastal ecosystems, specifically seagrass and mangrove ecosystems. We found that substantial recovery needs both restoration and protection of ecosystems.

Fortuitously, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 has just kicked off, encouraging political and financial support for coastal ecosystem recovery through restoration. Our research provides scientific support for ambitious recovery goals and inspires coordinated international action by estimating the rate at which individual countries need to act.

For mangroves, we used global data obtained via advanced satellite remote sensing technology. Seagrass ecosystems are more challenging to monitor, so we drew upon a comprehensive synthesis of extent change through time at various locations across the world. The models demonstrate that combined protection and restoration could allow for the substantial gains in ecosystem extent to be sustained into the future.

You can use the Target Setting for Conservation of Mangroves and Seagrass Web App to explore the combined protection and restoration targets that nations could set to achieve global recovery.

To use the app, wait for the maps to load, and then set global protection and restoration targets for the years 2030 and 2050, respectively. The app will run calculations to estimate the rates of protection and restoration required by individual countries to achieve global targets, and colour countries according to the relative importance of protection and restoration for contributing to global targets. Trajectories of ecosystem extent change through time can be inspected globally, or for individual countries.

If have any questions regarding the app, please get in touch with Dr Christina Buelow, Research Fellow via email


Setting ambitious targets for ecosystem recovery can act as a ‘call to arms’; but, if targets are not scientifically rigorous, precious conservation efforts and funding can be wasted or result in perverse action.

For example, in the hope to achieve large area-based restoration targets, mangroves have been planted in seagrass meadows. This is likely a lose-lose situation. The mangroves are not suited to this environment, have a low chance of survival, and the seagrass ecosystem will also be lost.

For countries to set winning targets that are ambitious and scientifically-sound, we combined ecosystem surveillance with mathematical models to estimate rates at which they will need to protect and restore coastal ecosystems.