Planting for a sustainable future
Over 50,000 seagrass seeds will be planted in the Solent area in the next 48 hours.
Two important seagrass restoration projects are taking place in the Solent this week with the help of researchers from the University of Portsmouth.
Seagrass has been lost extensively across UK waters during the last 100 years, with recent research estimating that at least 44 per cent of the UK’s seagrass has disappeared since 1936, with 39 per cent of this happening in the last 30 years.
Often called an ‘ecosystem engineer’, seagrasses create a habitat for fish and other aquatic wildlife, connect different natural spaces, provide ecological services such as storing carbon and nitrogen, and improve water quality.
A team of University of Portsmouth researchers are working in partnership with Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust on a seagrass restoration project. They are providing scientific expertise in restoration ecology and blue carbon analysis, as well as the facilities and laboratories needed for the maturation and processing of seagrass seeds.
During the past six months researchers from the University’s Institute of Marine Science have nurtured the seagrass seeds in laboratories, getting them ready for planting. Late last year, 1025 seagrass seed bombs (biodegradable hessian bags of seeds), containing over 21,000 seeds, were planted in Langstone Harbour. The seeds have been carefully monitored and the team are going out to check on progress and plant more seagrass this week.
Dr Joanne Preston of the Institute of Marine Sciences said: “Now is the time for action; we can’t delay any longer the restoration of marine ecosystems on which humans depend, yet have largely destroyed, so it is fantastic to be involved in restoring seagrass habitat. We will be using scientific monitoring to assess the biodiversity and carbon storage they offer here in the Solent, to quantify the benefits of these marine habitats.”
Now is the time for action; we can’t delay any longer the restoration of marine ecosystems on which humans depend.
England’s largest seagrass planting project which begins planting in the Solent this week is the other venture enlisting the help of University of Portsmouth experts.
It is part of the four-year (LIFE Recreation ReMEDIES) project being led by Natural England to help protect and restore the marine environment. University researchers will join other volunteers to carry out one hectare of planting this week. Around 20,000 seed bombs have been packed and will be taken out onto the water by barge and dropped down long pipes to land on the seabed.
It is hoped that seagrass shoots will start to be visible by summer 2022. The next phase of the project will be to monitor the success and growth of the restored seagrass meadows.