A new study out of Western Washington University found restored wetlands stored a significant amount of carbon from the atmosphere, showing promise in the efforts to mitigate climate change.
Dr. John Rybczyk and his research assistant Katrina Poppe compared the rate of carbon being captured and held in restored wetlands to unrestored wetlands.
They partnered with The Nature Conservancy in 2011 to restore a 150-acre estuary in the Stillaguamish. They removed a levy that was once in place for farming and let the restoration begin. Within a year, the estuary responded positively with thriving wildlife and habitat. They then took dozens of core samples, a meter long, and analyzed how much carbon they contained. They found the carbon was sequestered at a rate twice as fast as the adjacent natural marshes.
"It's a small area of 150 acres, but once the restoration project is maxed out, we estimate that it will store the equivalent of removing 7,000 to 10,000 cars for one year," said Dr. Rybczyk.