Seagrasses provide one of the most environmentally valuable habitats on the planet.
Seagrass meadows are one of the few habitats that provide multiple benefits to our environment. They are thought to be the third most valuable ecosystem on our planet.
Found on every continent except Antarctica, they are the Ocean’s only flowering plant. Seagrasses provide us with oxygen, are nurseries for our fisheries and protect our coasts against erosion. And, perhaps most importantly of all, they absorb carbon up to 35 times more efficiently that a rainforest.
Unlike rainforests, seagrass meadows are largely overlooked despite their global footprint and massive contribution to the environment.
Since the 1930s, 90% of Zostera marina (a temperate species) seagrass beds have been lost. The International Union for Conservation and Nature (IUCN) in 2014 estimated that seagrasses are declining by 7% a year globally. This estimate, if correct, makes it the fastest disappearing habitat on the planet.
The main issue impacting seagrass decline is human activity, particularly destructive fishing practices, coastal development, poorly managed marine activities and pollution.
Whilst continued pressure on the improvement of water quality, reduced pollution and improved habitat management can make a positive difference, real progress will require more pro-active intervention.
With the correct approach, the decline of underwater seagrass meadows can be reversed. Wide scale reforestation would provide a unique solution that would help protect global food security and preserve habitats for iconic and endangered species. Perhaps most importantly, large amounts of additional Blue Carbon would be absorbed in the process, mitigating climate change.
The Temperate Seagrass Restoration Plan
The Ocean Conservation Trust and its partners have developed a project with the aim of large-scale reforestation of temperate seagrass meadows.
Key partners in the project include the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, Plymouth University, the Marine Biological Association, The Horniman Museum and Natural England.
To find out more about this project and how you can support it, head to our Support Us page.