Seagrass meadows are an important and often overlooked habitat in the UK. Found along the coastlines throughout the country, seagrass meadows provide important ecological services, such as carbon sequestration, oxygen production, and nursery grounds for many species of fish and invertebrates. They also help to stabilize sediment and prevent coastal erosion. However, seagrass meadows in the UK have been under threat due to pollution, coastal development, and climate change. The good news is, efforts by LIFE Recreation ReMEDIES are being made to protect and restore these important habitats, including the creation of marine protected areas and the implementation of sustainable fishing practices.
LIFE Recreation ReMEDIES is a £2.5 million, four-year marine conservation partnership led by Natural England and funded by the EU LIFE programme to help protect and restore sensitive seabed habitats in southern England. It is the result of a series of workshops held by the National Trust and Royal Yachting Association between 2016 and 2018, which looked at the increasing evidence based on the impacts of recreational activities on sensitive seabed habitats with a view to reaching solutions. Recreational activities in the ocean are increasing, which can raise the pressure on sensitive habitats. Seagrass and Maerl are easily damaged by disturbance from recreational activities. Maerl beds are slow to grow, very fragile, and do not recover from damage.
This four-year project aims to plant a total of eight hectares of seagrass meadows within the five SAC areas that are currently in an unfavorable condition. In doing so, the project will demonstrate new habitat restoration and management approaches to seagrass restoration. This will be done by collecting seagrass seed from the seabed, cultivating it in laboratories, and replanting it on the seabed – a first for England at this scale.
The partnership also aims to work with the boating community to raise awareness and actively inspire better care of underwater habitats by recreational users. Successes will be shared with similar projects across Europe with the aim of inspiring others to adopt large-scale restoration of seagrass beds elsewhere. Restoration work is already underway with the first successful planting effort of seeds and seedlings across almost one hectare of Plymouth Sound National Marine Park in spring 2021.
ReMEDIES is important because it is one of the few projects that focus specifically on seagrass meadows in the UK and brings together scientists, conservationists, and policymakers to work towards a common goal. By restoring and protecting seagrass meadows, ReMEDIES is helping to preserve this vital habitat and the many species that depend on it for their survival.
To learn more, please visit - https://saveourseabed.co.uk/protecting-our-seabed/restoration/