By Dr. Nicole Heller,
Director of Conservation Science

Bair Island, just east of Redwood City, is one of those places where there is so much more than meets the eye. Like many of our open spaces, there are many invisible benefits that the land provides.

What do I mean by “invisible benefit”?  Good question. I am referring to the functions and services performed by land that we all benefit from, but for most of us, we are completely unaware. Let’s take, for example, Bair Island’s ability to sequester carbon (store carbon in the ground) and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Let me show you want I mean:


Wetlands are critically important in the global carbon cycle, and in particular carbon storage. Occupying only five to eight percent of the global land surface area, they account for an estimated 20 – 30% of global soil carbon.

When wetlands get drained to make way for agriculture or urbanization, this causes a huge flux of carbon being released into the atmosphere. In this way, the thoughtful management of the San Francisco baylands, and restoration at places like Bair Island, has an impact on our global climate. Not only does it deter emissions, but wetland recovery will increase carbon storage over time.

Based on current restoration plans, an estimated 0.28 to 0.30 million metric tons of carbon could be sequestered by restoring tidal wetlands in the San Francisco Bay. That’s the equivalent of removing more than 60,000 cars from the road for an entire year.

Carbon sequestration is just one of the functions that Bair Island provides to help mitigate climate change. Intact marshes are also an essential protection against increased storm damage from rising seas.

Next time you’re out walking or kayaking at Bair Island, I hope you look at the land a bit differently.

I know I do.


Click here to learn more about Bair Island and the endangered species that live there.


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About Post

Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects and cares for open space, farms and parkland in and around Silicon Valley. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 75,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.

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