UK seagrasses are under increasing strain and in an unfavourable state, yet these meadows provide critical ecosystem services. Seagrasses are threatened with annual global losses estimated at 7%. The reasons for this decline are complex, but commonly associated with poor water quality and catchment management, coastal development, and a lack of awareness fuelled by a bias in popular media attention towards other marine ecosystems. Disease and direct physical damage also contribute to decline.
Urgent action is required to stem the loss of our seagrass meadows, prioritise their protection and maintain ecosystem services provision. March 2020 saw the plantation of the UKs first large-scale seagrass restoration scheme. A partnership between Sky Ocean Rescue, Swansea University, WWF-UK, Project Seagrass and Cardiff University, aims to restore a meadow of the seagrass species Zostera marina in Dale Bay, West Wales. Around 700,000 seeds have been planted to date using a novel methodology utilising small sand-filled hessian bags.
In this webinar Leanne Cullen-Unsworth, Marine Scientist at the Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University and Director of the marine environmental charity, Project Seagrass, discusses the multiple challenges this project has seen and shares insight as this project aims to be the start of ‘re-greening’ the UKs coastal seas.