England’s largest ever seagrass project hits new milestone

30th March 2022


Web Seagrass credit i Stock 537891481

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IEMA

England’s largest ever seagrass restoration project has achieved a milestone by planting around 70,000 seed bags, spanning 3.5 hectares of seabed, under a key programme for carbon capture and protecting the marine environment.

Natural England chair Tony Juniper said seagrasses are “an essential mechanism for carbon capture and a healthy marine environment”. Seagrass meadows, mangroves and tidal marshes are increasingly recognised for their ability to capture carbon while providing vital habitats for sea life such as juvenile fish, seahorses and jellyfish. Seagrass, which can be as effective at absorbing and storing carbon as woodlands, also cleans the surrounding seawater and stabilises the seabed, reducing coastal erosion.

The £2.5m project, known as ReMEDIES and led by Natural England since 2019, aims to combat the loss of an estimated 44% of the UK’s seagrass since 1936. Chief causes of the loss include seagrass wasting disease, pollution and physical disturbance from activities such as the anchoring, launching and mooring of leisure boats.

Under the project, which covers Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) in southern England, partners are surveying and mapping seagrass beds to help inform recreational marine users.

This includes studies to improve understanding of how their activities impact seagrass and introducing voluntary ‘no-anchor zones’. Advanced mooring systems, which are designed to reduce their impact on the seabed, are also being trialled.

The ReMEDIES project has been planting seagrass in the Plymouth Sound and Solent Maritime SACs with its restoration partner Ocean Conservation Trust. It has now planted 2.5 hectares in Plymouth and one in Solent, and ultimately aims to plant eight hectares across the two SACs.

Image credit |iStock

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