Key to understanding the discussion around Natural Climate Solutions is understanding the terms commonly-used in scientific studies, policy briefs and other literature. This glossary is compiled from a variety of sources, including government agencies and non-profit organizations, to provide plain-English definitions of these terms. Links to the original sources are provided after each definition. In some cases, terms were edited for clarity.

Blue Carbon

Blue Carbon refers to carbon dioxide that the Earth’s vegetated coastal and marine ecosystems absorb from the atmosphere. (IUCN)

Coastal Wetlands

Coastal Wetlands are vegetated coastal ecosystems that include mangrove forests, salt marshes and seagrasses. Although they comprise less than 5% of global land area and less than 2% of the ocean, these habitats store roughly 50% of all carbon buried in ocean sediments. (Pew)

Salt Marshes

Salt Marshes, also known as tidal wetlands, are sinewy channels of coastal grasslands, protect coastlines from flooding, erosion, and storm surge, filter upland runoff, and serve as vital habitat for fish, birds, and other animals. Salt marshes and coastal wetlands sequester and store carbon at a rate 10 times that of mature tropical forests, helping to moderate the effects of climate change. (Pew 1, Pew 2)


Seagrasses are marine grasslands that capture the sun’s energy to generate food and oxygen for animals; provide habitat for fish and shellfish that feed people and form the backbone of coastal businesses; stabilize sediments; and absorb the power of waves, helping to stave off erosion and protect coastlines from storms. They also soak up climate-changing carbon and polluting runoff. (Pew)


Mangroves are trees and shrubs that grow in briny waters along coastlines in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. They play many important roles in supporting coasts and coastal communities and economies around the world, among them providing coastal protection, filtering water, and supporting the livelihoods of people who live in and around them. (Pew)

Teal Carbon

Teal Carbon is carbon stored in inland freshwater wetlands. If destroyed, the teal carbon stored in inland freshwater wetlands could act as a carbon dioxide source. (TNC)