UK's largest seagrass restoration effort begins sowing 5 million seeds

A burlap bag planting technique works to unlock a powerful carbon-trapping weapon.
Sade Agard
Dimitris Poursanidis, a seagrass researcher
Dimitris Poursanidis, a seagrass researcher

Dimitris Poursanidis / Ocean Image Bank 

The largest seagrass restoration project in the UK has started with planting on the seafloor off the coast of North Wales. By 2026, the project hopes to have planted more than five million seagrass seeds, which will grow into 10 hectares of meadow or more than 24 soccer fields worth of turf.

Some coasts are home to the fantastic plant known as seagrass, which thrives in shallow, protected regions. It is essential to the well-being of our oceans and can aid in resolving environmental issues. 

What makes seagrass so powerful against climate change?

Despite only covering 0.2 percent of the seafloor, seagrass absorbs 10 percent of the ocean's carbon dioxide (CO2) annually. That's up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests, making it a powerful weapon in the fight against climate change. 

For marine life, which depends on the meadows for food and refuge, seagrass is essential. 80,000 fish and more than a million invertebrates may coexist in a 10,000 m2 area, according to WWF. Many fish we consume, such as cod, plaice, and pollock, as well as endangered species like seahorses, depend on seagrass as an underwater conservatory.

Over the past 100 years, the U.K. has lost up to 92 percent of its seagrass beds. Only around 4,582 hectares (45.8 kilometers 2) of seagrass ecosystem are thought to still exist along the Welsh coast, with most being in a "perilous state," according to studies.

According to Bethan Thomas of the restoration effort "Project Seagrass," seeds can be planted using burlap bags or by combining them with mud and injecting them directly into the seabed.

"Today, we are going to be planting over 50,000 seeds, and over the course of the project, we are hoping to plant over five million," she explained.

"We have got very short time windows. We have got to wait for the tide to go out. Once the tide has gone out, we can lay out our equipment, and then we can get our plot set up."

A trial employing the bag planting technique was conducted in Pembrokeshire to show that it could be done. 

Restoration work will continue this spring and the following year at a few locations along the Pen Lln coast.

In addition to providing a habitat for marine life, the project's sponsors want to shield local populations from the negative consequences of coastal erosion, flooding, and inadequate water quality.

Even while we know that no one component is better than another, the sea grass restoration initiative is crucial to what we call nature-based solutions for combating climate change.

Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron
Job Board