The government of Oman is undertaking a rapid restoration of mangroves, a valuable natural resource that plays a vital role in the global environmental ecosystem and acts as a carbon sink. The aim is to eliminate planet-warming emissions and generate $150 million in economic benefits through carbon credits. Around 6,000 years ago, mangroves were abundant in Oman, but due to climate change, only one species remains today. Therefore, the country is focusing on restoring the coastal forests of these carbon-absorbing trees.
Mangroves are highly effective in sequestering and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide, making them crucial carbon sinks. They possess various mechanisms that contribute to their carbon sequestration ability, including photosynthesis, sediment trapping, slow decomposition, and peat formation. Additionally, mangrove habitats can remove CO2 from the atmosphere faster than forests and store it in the soil and sediment for longer periods. A study conducted by the University of Bonn revealed that climatic changes have led to the decline of coastal ecosystems in Oman. The country is home to only one species of mangrove tree, Avicennia Marina, found along the coastline from North al Batinah to Dhofar, covering approximately 1,000 hectares.
Oman has emerged as the center for mangrove restoration and preservation in the Gulf region. The country’s Environment Authority (EA) recently partnered with MSA Green Projects to launch the Oman Blue Carbon initiative. This project aims to cultivate 100 million mangrove trees in Oman and aligns with the Sultanate’s National Zero Carbon Strategy 2050, which aims to achieve net zero emissions. Badr bin Saif Al Busaidi, the EA representative, expressed satisfaction with the restoration efforts, highlighting that up to 80 tons of CO2 per hectare can be sequestered by above-ground biomass in Al-Qurm. Mangroves are widely recognized as one of the nature-based solutions supported by corporations to combat climate change.
The Oman Blue Carbon project is the first initiative focused on producing carbon credits through mangrove growth. Over the past two years, Oman has planted more than 3.5 million mangrove seeds, including a record-breaking 2 million trees this year. Two decades ago, there were no mangroves in Al-Sawadi creek, but now it stretches over 4 kilometers with 88 hectares of mangrove cover. The mangrove restoration project has gradually developed, inspired by the late ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said, a renowned conservationist. Initially, conservationists relied on nurseries to grow seedlings for transfer to coastal areas. However, they have now adopted a direct, targeted planting approach to restore the coastal habitat.
Under the contract with MSA Green Projects, Oman aims to grow 100 million trees over four years, resulting in the removal of 14 million metric tons of CO2 and earning the country $150 million in carbon credit benefits. Each carbon credit represents one metric ton of reduced or removed CO2 from the atmosphere. As part of the agreement, the Al Wusta governorate will transform 20,000 hectares of coastal land into mangrove habitats. The generated carbon credits can be utilized by companies seeking to offset their carbon emissions. The project’s carbon offset credits will be measured against Oman’s baseline emissions, which stood at 90 metric tons in 2021.
Compared to its neighbors Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Oman, a minor oil producer, is making significant progress in mangrove restoration. Highlighting the urgency of their efforts, one of the conservationists involved in the project stated, “We are living in what we can call a war with nature because of climate change. If we don’t take action, we will lose these natural resources.” In addition to the mangrove restoration project, Oman is also developing its green hydrogen production through Hydrom, with a target of producing 1 million tonnes by 2030 and over 8 million tonnes by 2050. These ambitious goals are part of Oman’s clean energy transition and net-zero strategies.
Oman’s ambitious mangrove restoration project not only represents a critical step in combating climate change but also positions the country as a key player in the global carbon credit market.