Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

A question of standards: adapting carbon and other PES markets to work for community seagrass conservation  

Shilland, Robyn; Grimsditch, Gabriel; Ahmed, Mohamed; Bandeira, Salomão; Kennedy, Hilary; Potouroglou, Maria; Huxham, Mark


Robyn Shilland

Gabriel Grimsditch

Mohamed Ahmed

Salomão Bandeira

Hilary Kennedy

Maria Potouroglou


Seagrass meadows deliver multiple ecosystem services that are of particular importance to resource-poor coastal communities, yet they are rapidly declining globally. The Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) approach has been used to fund the protection of other ‘Blue Carbon’ Ecosystems (BCE), yet seagrass has been incorporated in just one PES project worldwide. Some of the ecosystem services delivered by seagrass have the potential for inclusion under a PES framework but multiple challenges currently make this difficult, particularly under community-based management. PES programmes typically focus on carbon as the tradable service, but scientific uncertainties regarding seagrass carbon are likely to remain significant barriers to using carbon as the sole commodity under current carbon trading standards and market conditions. It is recommended here that project developers demonstrate the multiple ecosystem services delivered by seagrass meadows, along with their importance to coastal communities, in the planning and marketing of seagrass PES projects. Moreover, they should consider approaches that incorporate seagrass meadows into other blue carbon certified projects. The capacities of the communities that rely most heavily on seagrass are generally very limited. Consequently, demanding high levels of scientific certainty over carbon stocks and flows will exclude most of these communities. Standards, buyers and policy makers should consider building community capacity in the technical and marketing requirements of voluntary carbon standards. The voluntary carbon market has the flexibility to pioneer certified seagrass carbon, potentially leading to the inclusion of seagrass carbon in formal policy instruments, such as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).


Shilland, R., Grimsditch, G., Ahmed, M., Bandeira, S., Kennedy, H., Potouroglou, M., & Huxham, M. (2021). A question of standards: adapting carbon and other PES markets to work for community seagrass conservation  . Marine Policy, 129, Article 104574.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 20, 2021
Online Publication Date Apr 30, 2021
Publication Date 2021-07
Deposit Date May 3, 2021
Publicly Available Date Oct 31, 2022
Print ISSN 0308-597X
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 129
Article Number 104574
Keywords Seagrass, Community-based management, Voluntary carbon market
Public URL


A Question Of Standards: Adapting Carbon And Other PES Markets To Work For Community Seagrass Conservation (accepted version) (249 Kb)


Copyright Statement
Accepted version licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations