The Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), GRID-Arendal and the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) have become the pioneering founders of a new Norwegian initiative to strengthen and share national competence on 'blue forest' habitats.These institutions are the first to join the Norwegian Blue Forests Network (NBFN), dedicated to harness the full potential of 'blue forests' to capture and store atmospheric carbon, and of their ability to provide a variety of other beneficial ecosystem services, both nationally and globally.The objectives of NBFN are to: increase society's understanding of the role of 'blue forest' habitats in mitigating climate change, preserving biodiversity and enabling sustainable livelihoods; investigate how 'blue forests' provide climate and ecosystem services; initiate and implement projects for sustainable management and use of 'blue forests'; ensure that 'blue forests' and blue carbon are integrated into the relevant environmental agendas; and provide information needed to support action that is to be taken by decision makers both nationally and internationally.Over the coming months, relevant institutions and experts will be invited to join in this process to share experiences and reflect upon solutions.'Blue forest' habitats are comprised of seabed vegetation, including plants that thrive below sea level like kelp forests and seagrass beds – or above sea level like mangroves and salt marshes. They protect coasts, regulate water quality, provide habitat for countless marine species, and supply food, raw materials and other benefits to people.Peter Harris, Managing Director of GRID-Arendal, said, "Blue forests are not only an important component of marine ecosystems and of the ocean's biodiversity, but they are also important in relation to the global climate system. The Norwegian Blue Forests Network will play a leading role in raising awareness of blue forest habitats nationally and globally and will help with sharing knowledge, informing decision-makers and catalysing action where it is most relevant.""Politicians are increasingly opening their eyes to the importance of blue forests, whether we are talking about kelp forests grazed down by sea urchins in northern Norway or mangrove forests that are increasingly threatened in Myanmar," said Greta Bentzen, Director of NIVA. "This network can provide important knowledge for sound management practices in both places and beyond," she added."We still need more knowledge about the importance of blue forests", said Tore Nepstad, Executive Director of the Institute of Marine Research."Along with the knowledge provided by NIVA, GRID-Arendal and IMR, the network constitutes a unique gathering of expertise in coastal and marine ecology. That expertise will be invaluable in the development of sustainable management of these resources both nationally and internationally," Nepstad added.(original story at: