Late last year, GRID-Arendal, the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) and the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) founded a new Norwegian initiative to strengthen and share national competence on 'blue forest' habitats. The network is now engaging and educating Norwegian stakeholders on the importance of blue forests.The Norwegian Blue Forests Network (NBFN) aims to jointly strengthen the Norwegian competence and know-how in blue forests so that its full potential in addressing the global climate challenge and provisioning of other ecosystem services can be met nationally and abroad.'Blue forest' habitats are comprised of seabed vegetation, including plants that thrive below sea level like kelp forests and seagrass meadows – or at and above sea level like mangrove forests and saltwater marshes. Some blue forests habitats have also been found to be particularly effective in capturing and storing atmospheric carbon (a concept also termed 'blue carbon').Peter Harris, Managing Director of GRID-Arendal, noted: "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 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," stated Greta Bentzen, Director of NIVA.The NBFN has four main objectives:1) Raise awareness in Norway on the role of blue forests in capturing and long-term storing atmospheric carbon dioxide and their role in providing multiple and important ecosystem services through targeted communications and outreach.2) Conduct research to contribute to increased knowledge on the role of blue forests, nationally and internationally, in addressing the global climate challenge and in supporting a wide range of vital ecosystem services.3) Develop and execute action oriented projects in Norway and elsewhere, aiming to conserve and improve ecosystem management for blue forests.4) Support the Norwegian blue forests policy and research agenda and its implementation nationally and internationally, under the various international climate and biodiversity conventions and mechanisms, as well as those with a national origin requested by the Parliament, Government and subordinate agencies.On Monday 20 April, the Norwegian Liberal Party (Venstre) hosted a special seminar on Blue Forests at the Norwegian Parliament. The session included presentations from NIVA, GRID-Arendal and Dr. Hilary Kennedy of Bangor University, lead author of the coastal wetlands chapter of the 2013 Wetlands Supplement to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes accounting for some blue forests ecosystems. The seminar was intended for parliamentarians and their advisors, as well as other specially invited participants with knowledge in this field.The speakers presented their organisation's interest in blue forests and the NBFN, which included improving understanding of the carbon and other ecosystem values of Norway's kelp forests, the need to address other key blue forests knowledge gaps and the UNEP/GEF Blue Forests Project. This project is a global initiative focused on harnessing the values associated with blue forests to achieve improved ecosystem management. GRID-Arendal also presented on the recent Fish Carbonreport, which explores the potential role of marine vertebrate carbon services in addressing the global climate challenge.Read more about the Blue Forests Network here.(original story: