It's on us. Share your news here.

Biggest ever Scottish seagrass restoring programme takes off

Seagrass meadows hold carbon in their roots and leaves, while contributing to marine life

Posted on March 5, 2024

Seagrasses are the ocean’s flowering plants, often said to be the most valuable coastal, marine ecosystems on Earth. Seagrass meadows develop in shallow and intertidal zones, which provide shelter and a home for many forms of marine life.

Across the world, seagrasses are being threatened by climate change and human activity. Seagrasses have declined all across the world since the 1930s, with about 7% lost every year. According to the British Sub Aqua Club, around one football pitch size of seagrass is destroyed every half an hour.

Scotland’s shallow coastal environments favour seagrass growth which host thousands of different marine species organisms. On World Seagrass Day, which was on 1 March this year, NatureScot announced a new major project to enhance the marine environment in Scotland.

In partnership between NatureScot and SSEN Distribution, their Scottish seagrass meadows restoration project will receive over £2 million in funding, which might be the largest donation or nature finance to marine enhancement made in Scotland.

Shirley Robertson, SSEN Distribution’s Head of Strategic Planning and Sustainability, said: “The restoration of seagrass meadows will bring tangible benefits to nearby communities both above and below the water level – not only is the carbon sequestration rate of seagrass estimated to be three times higher than land-based planting, the revitalised meadows will help to improve the spawning conditions for fish shoals and other marine life.”

The educational outreach from the programme should also build an understanding of nature investments and inform policy in Scotland and the UK, so that the biodiversity of Britain can be boosted.

Even these national projects can have broader global impacts. Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Net Zero and Energy Màiri McAllan said: “Tackling the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss is a global and national endeavour which will require the collective effort of governments, businesses and our whole society to deliver the necessary change.

Carbon locking seagrass

Seagrasses are known to be important natural settings for locking in carbon, preventing it from releasing into the atmosphere and contributing to climate change. Leaves and roots hold carbon, but they also help improve the quality of water while reducing the impacts of wave energy, which helps to reduce erosion that comes from increasing storms and floods.

In the 2023 summer, volunteers mapped out 185 hectares of seagrass meadows that were previously unrecorded in shallow UK waters. Named the Great Seagrass Survey, it helps to encourage the restoration of these ecosystems, as a collaboration between a Scottish charity, Seawilding, and the British Sub Aqua Club.

Danny Renton, CEO of Seawilding commented that “Seagrass is notoriously hard to restore once it is lost, so these new beds are incredibly valuable for both biodiversity and carbon capture.”

“We hope that these patches of endangered and unmapped seagrass – and the ones that the survey will reveal in the future – can be the cornerstone of new restoration projects inspired and driven by coastal communities.”

As nature and climate are interlocked, projects and partnerships like this show how restoring nature’s marine ecosystems is one crucial part of tackling the climate crisis.


It's on us. Share your news here.
Submit Your News Today

Join Our
Click to Subscribe