photo: Octavio Aburto
What is Blue Carbon?
Blue Carbon is carbon stored by coastal and marine ecosystems. Blue Carbon ecosystems can be much more effective at storing carbon per unit area than any ecosystem on land. These ecosystems also provide essential habitat for plants and animals and can support sustainable jobs. Blue carbon ecosystems generally are biodiversity hotspots.
The best examples of blue carbon ecosystems are mangrove forests, kelp forests, seagrass meadows, and coral reefs. Additionally, SeaTrees defines the Ridge-to-Reef ecosystem as blue carbon, because the health of a terrestrial watershed connected to the ocean directly affects the health of the adjacent coastal ocean.
What is SeaTrees
SeaTrees is a program of nonprofit, Sustainable Surf.
The mission of SeaTrees is to provide financial support to “regenerative” projects that protect and restore critical “blue carbon” ocean ecosystems, such as:
- Mangrove forests
- Kelp forests
- Coral reefs
- Seagrass meadows
- Ridge to Reef watershed conservation
All SeaTrees projects are evaluated through the framework of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. They produce multiple benefits to ocean health, climate change, biodiversity, jobs, education, human health, gender equity, and many more.
SeaTrees connects people and brands that are ready to act – with the communities, social entrepreneurs and scientists that are working to protect and restore critical ocean ecosystems.
Who operates SeaTrees?
SeaTrees is a program of Sustainable Surf, a 501c3 nonprofit based in California. All revenue, expenses, and employees are part of Sustainable Surf’s normal operations as a nonprofit.
Who are SeaTrees Project Partners?
SeaTrees Projects are operated by SeaTrees Project Partners who develop projects around the world to protect and restore coastal ecosystems. These partners are nonprofit organizations in the local community of each project. They have the expertise to restore their local ecosystem and relationships with the local community and government to ensure that the project is community-led and provides maximum benefit to the people who live there.
What are SeaTrees Projects?
SeaTrees supports blue carbon ecosystem restoration projects that have been developed by local communities with government approval. These projects restore coastal biodiversity, sequester CO2, and provide jobs and other benefits to the local communities.
SeaTrees identifies these projects and evaluates them for quality and effectiveness, and regularly visits the projects to ensure successful operation and evaluation. We also collect images, videos, and stories from the projects and the local community.
Each SeaTrees project tracks the environmental benefits created by SeaTrees funding. Such as the number of trees planted, sq-ft of kelp forest restored, tons of carbon sequestered, etc… These benefits are tracked in our database and retired on behalf of our donors.
How is SeaTrees funded?
SeaTrees receives funding from charitable grants and donations, as a traditional nonprofit program of Sustainable Surf.
SeaTrees also receives funding from our community of supporting people and brands, who donate to plant SeaTrees, such as one mangrove tree or a sq-ft of kelp forest, or purchase SeaTrees Tokens. The SeaTrees planted by these donations are permanently retired on behalf of the donors.
SeaTrees also receives funding from the sales of on-mission physical products, produced in collaboration with artist partners. These products provide education about protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems, inspire action by our community, and directly fund the creation of environmental benefits.
Where does the revenue go?
As a program of Sustainable Surf, all revenue and expenses of SeaTrees will be reported on the public tax returns of Sustainable Surf
85% of donations are applied to program delivery. 15% of donations are applied to indirect administrative expenses.
Our use of funds breaks down as follows:
1. Program delivery expenses, including:
- Direct payments to SeaTrees Project Partners to develop and operate SeaTrees projects
- Project management (site visits, vetting, evaluating project impacts, reporting/communicating impacts to supporters)
- Educational content creation, media, and videos about SeaTrees projects and the need to protect and restore ocean health
- Operate and maintain the SeaTrees platform and website
- Invest in emerging blue carbon projects in pursuit of our goal to develop 100 blue carbon projects by 2030-
- Support scientific research into the climate benefits of blue carbon ecosystems-
- Support policy development to enable more effective blue carbon ecosystem restoration
When will my SeaTrees be planted?
The exact timing of when a mangrove tree is planted, or kelp forest is restored varies depending on the project. For example, mangrove planting on Biak Island, Indonesia, occurs year-round, while kelp reforestation off Palos Verdes, California, occurs during the summer months when the ocean is calm.
SeaTrees tracks the total ecosystem benefits created by SeaTrees Projects, and compares each total against the total donations made by our community. We strive to maintain a surplus at all times, so it is likely that SeaTrees have already been planted when a donation is made.
However there may be times when demand exceeds supply, which is why SeaTrees is constantly evaluating and investing in new projects around the world.
How is the impact of SeaTrees measured?
We believe SeaTrees has the potential to scale to create ocean positive impact around the world. Both for people and the planet.
SeaTrees measures the benefits of projects through the UN Sustainable Development Goals. These goals are defined in 17 major categories of sustainable development, with targets and indicators. It’s the best comprehensive description of the global challenges we face today, and of the targets and indicators of success needed to solve these problems by 2030.
Specific details about the SDG benefits created by each project can be found on our SDG Impact page.
What is a SeaTrees Token?
A SeaTrees Token is our custom blended carbon offset product. It combines certified carbon credits and early-stage support for innovative blue carbon projects in the SeaTrees platform. We see it as an improved carbon offset product that plants and protects multiple blue carbon ecosystems.
One SeaTrees Token should be purchased for every ton of CO2 emissions to be “wiped out”.
Each Token purchased creates three benefits:
- 1.0 ton of CO2 sequestered using VCS certified carbon offsets
- 4 mangrove trees planted on our Biak Island project
- 1.0 sq-ft of kelp
The purpose of this mix is to first become “net-zero” with VCS certified carbon credits. Then, the additional mangrove trees and kelp forest will sequester an additional 1.2 tons of CO2 over the 25 year life of the trees, which makes the action “Ocean Positive”.
There are two main benefits with this approach. First, in order to solve climate change, we will need to remove CO2 that has already been emitted. Simply offsetting existing emissions is not enough. Thus each SeaTrees Token is designed to take out more than one ton of CO2.
Second, blue carbon projects are on the cutting edge of carbon policy, and the science is too new for these projects to create a certified carbon offset. Yet, these projects still need immediate support to operate and further develop the science and carbon policy. Thus, the purchase of SeaTrees Tokens helps to fund the development of new blue carbon technologies and practices.
Each purchase of a SeaTrees Token will include a retirement certificate for those carbon credits on the Verra registry. The additional mangrove tree planting and kelp forest restoration will be verified by SeaTrees site visits and evaluation of those projects, and reported on our annual impact report totals.