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. The project has seen multiple challenges but we’re hoping this is the start of ‘re-greening’ the UKs coastal seas. This webinar will discuss the project, its challenges and the future.
Leanne Cullen-Unsworth is a Marine Scientist based at the Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University and is a Director of the marine environmental charity, Project Seagrass. Her research interests are the interactions between people and planet. In particular, coupled social-ecological systems and sustainability in the marine environment. She works on seagrass meadows internationally as a model system investigating fisheries support and drivers of seagrass decline across multiple scales throughout SE Asia. She also works more broadly on seagrass ecosystem services, including fisheries support, and seagrass restoration in temperate regions. Through her role as a director of Project Seagrass she works on improving our understanding of seagrass systems in the UK and raising awareness of their importance.