The biggest seagrass restoration project ever undertaken in the UK is being launched in order to help this important habitat to thrive once again.
Seagrass Ocean Rescue aims to restore 20,000 m2 of the marine plant in west Wales, following the disappearance of up to 92 per cent of the UK’s seagrass in the last century. The huge decline has been caused by pollution, runoff from the land, coastal development and damage from boat propellers and chain moorings.
Seagrass is a flowering marine plant that captures carbon from the atmosphere up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests, making it a key weapon in the battle against climate change. It often grows in large underwater meadows, which absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. As the fires continue to engulf the Amazon rainforest – the largest land-based carbon sink on the planet – the ocean’s role in halting climate change is becoming all the more important.
Alec Taylor, WWF head of marine policy, said: “Seagrass is a wonder-plant that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, so its steep decline is extremely concerning. Without seagrass the myriad of amazing species that depend on it could disappear, the food we eat will be affected and the amount of carbon in the environment will increase.
“Along with Sky Ocean Rescue and Swansea University we are urgently calling on governments to use the model our project is creating to bring back these lush underwater meadows. Governments also need to work with local communities to ensure that these vital areas are well managed. The UK can become a global leader on restoring ocean health and combating climate change, if it uses the solutions that nature provides.”