In Senegal and other developing countries, multinational companies are investing in programs to restore mangrove forests and other wetlands that sequester carbon. But critics say these initiatives should not focus on global climate goals at the expense of the local people’s livelihoods.Standing calf-deep in the warm, brackish water of Senegal’s Saloum Delta, Saly Sarr points to a mass of ripples colored silver by the setting sun.“You see that movement?” she says. “The fish are coming out.”All around her, the spindly trunks of young mangrove trees poke through the water. Seven years ago, this area on the edge of the island of Niodior was a sandy wasteland ravaged by drought. Today, thanks to reforestation work done by Sarr and other women, it is covered in mangroves that shelter young fish from the midday sun and hold the soil in place as the tides wash in and out.The previous night, Sarr and her neighbor, Binta Bakhoum, sat on stools in a moonlit courtyard paved with seashells and explained why their small, mostly self-sufficient community of fishermen, farmers, and mollusk collectors planted the trees. “We did this to help ourselves and help the environment,” said Bakhoum, 66, who presided over the work. “The fish were becoming rare, and we live on fish, so things were very difficult. They’ve gotten a lot better since then.”Local concerns aren’t the only reason this project has been launched, however. It also happened because of the urgent global need to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Mangroves, seagrasses, and salt marshes do that better than almost anything else, and as a result, projects to restore them are starting to draw new attention from groups interested in mitigating climate change.That’s what happened in Niodior. From 2008 to 2012, a group of ten European companies injected millions of dollars into mangrove reforestation work in several parts of Senegal. In exchange, the companies are receiving carbon credits that they can use to offset their own emissions, or sell to others looking to do the same. It’s a new and rapidly spreading approach to coastal conservation that proponents say brings triple benefits: reduced global warming, healthier coastal environments, and greater prosperity for the people who inhabit them.But the model has also drawn criticism. Groups like the 10-million-strong World Forum of Fisher Peoples worry that if rich countries start focusing on the “blue carbon” in the developing world’s coastal ecosystems, the people who live in these ecosystems could end up losing access to crucial resources. That concern is very real in Niodior, where residents like Sarr and Bakhoum strongly oppose restrictions on cutting wood from the new mangrove plantations, and say they received scant pay for their work on the project. The problems mirror what has happened in many poorly managed carbon forestry projects on land, casting doubt on the wisdom of extending the model to sea.