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The value of ecosystem services in global marine kelp forests

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Pip MooreORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2023, The Author(s).While marine kelp forests have provided valuable ecosystem services for millennia, the global ecological and economic value of those services is largely unresolved. Kelp forests are diminishing in many regions worldwide, and efforts to manage these ecosystems are hindered without accurate estimates of the value of the services that kelp forests provide to human societies. Here, we present a global estimate of the ecological and economic potential of three key ecosystem services - fisheries production, nutrient cycling, and carbon removal provided by six major forest forming kelp genera (Ecklonia, Laminaria, Lessonia, Macrocystis, Nereocystis, and Saccharina). Each of these genera creates a potential value of between $64,400 and $147,100/hectare each year. Collectively, they generate between $465 and $562 billion/year worldwide, with an average of $500 billion. These values are primarily driven by fisheries production (mean $29,900, 904 Kg/Ha/year) and nitrogen removal ($73,800, 657 Kg N/Ha/year), though kelp forests are also estimated to sequester 4.91 megatons of carbon from the atmosphere/year highlighting their potential as blue carbon systems for climate change mitigation. These findings highlight the ecological and economic value of kelp forests to society and will facilitate better informed marine management and conservation decisions.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Eger AM, Marzinelli EM, Beas-Luna R, Blain CO, Blamey LK, Byrnes JEK, Carnell PE, Choi CG, Hessing-Lewis M, Kim KY, Kumagai NH, Lorda J, Moore P, Nakamura Y, Perez-Matus A, Pontier O, Smale D, Steinberg PD, Verges A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nature Communications

Year: 2023

Volume: 14

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 18/04/2023

Acceptance date: 14/03/2023

Date deposited: 05/05/2023

ISSN (print): 0028-0836

ISSN (electronic): 2041-1723

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-37385-0

PubMed id: 37072389


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