BlueC: Investigating Ireland’s Blue Carbon Potential Through a Scientific, Socio-economic and Legislative Approach

Start Date:

1st June 2022

End Date:

31st May 2027

Funding Body

Marine Institute and EPA


Dr. Grace Cott, University College Dublin

Project Partners

University College Dublin, University of Galway and MaREI-UCC

Principal Investigators

Dr Grace Cott in UCD (or Dr Anne Marie O’Hagan in UCC)




Coastal and marine systems play a major role in the global carbon cycle, representing the largest long-term sink of Carbon (C). Ireland has two Blue Carbon (BC) habitats: saltmarsh and seagrass meadows, and a vast maritime territory containing potential BC systems, such as carbon-rich macroalgae, maërl, cold water corals, phytoplankton and sediments. There is a lack of data on the carbon storage capacity of these ecosystems in Ireland as well as a lack of coherent management strategies, which hampers the ability to integrate these ecosystems into wider biodiversity protection and climate policy frameworks.


The overarching aim of the BlueC project is to advance scientific understanding of the carbon dynamics of Irish coastal and marine environments, whilst simultaneously improving their management and harnessing their potential for climate mitigation, adaptation and other ecosystem services to underpin policy development.

UCC lead the work on planning, management and legislation applicable to Blue Carbon habitats. The objectives of this work will be to provide policy advice on appropriate and effective management, regulation and use of selected currently designated and non-designated BC ecosystems. Guidance will be developed for national policymakers and local planners to assist them in incorporating blue carbon considerations into their respective policies to ensure long-term protection. This could include expanding policy advice to inform future Marine Protected Area (MPA) designations and wider Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP). Finally the potential to include blue carbon systems in Ireland and the EU’s reporting requirements in response to climate change (Paris Agreement/NDCs) will be explored.

Work Packages

Work Package 1: Coordination and Project Management

Work Package 2: Carbon dynamics in saltmarsh ecosystems

Work Package 3: Carbon dynamics and accumulation in seagrass ecosystems

Work Package 4: Establishment of long-term monitoring site and assessment of threats

Work Package 5: Evaluation of potential Blue Carbon systems (pBCE) and carbon hotspots, with research recommendations

Work Package 6: Ecosystem service values from Irish BC habitats

Work Package 7: Planning, management and legislation