Natural England and the Ocean Conservation Trust have announced that work on England’s largest seagrass planting effort is taking place from 21 April in Plymouth Sound National Marine Park.
A total of 16,000 seagrass seed bags and 2,200 seedling bags are being planted as part of the LIFE Recreation ReMEDIES project being led by Natural England to help support and improve the resilience of our marine environment. The planting is being carried out by project partner the Ocean Conservation Trust.
The four-year project aims to plant a total of eight hectares of seagrass meadows – four hectares in Plymouth Sound and four hectares in the Solent Maritime Special Area of Conservation. The seagrass seeds have been bagged at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth by Aquarium and Ocean Conservation Trust staff, as well as volunteers. Seedlings have been growing in the Aquarium’s special seagrass laboratory since January.
ReMEDIES is funded by the EU LIFE programme and led by Natural England in partnership with Ocean Conservation Trust (OCT), Marine Conservation Society, Royal Yachting Association and Plymouth City Council/Tamar Estuaries Consultative Forum.
Seagrass meadows provide homes for juvenile fish and protected creatures like seahorses and stalked jellyfish. Seagrass also has an integral role in stabilising the seabed, cleaning the surrounding seawater and capturing and storing significant amounts of carbon. It is estimated that the UK may have lost up to 92 per cent of its seagrass, so this project is hugely important in protecting and developing seagrass meadows off our coasts.
Seagrass is delicate and can be damaged by activities such as the anchoring, mooring and launching of leisure boats, as well as other shore- and water-based activities. That’s why, in addition to planting new seagrass meadows, ReMEDIES is working to protect existing ones by helping recreational users to minimise impacts on these sensitive habitats.
Natural England and ReMEDIES partners plan to extend the benefits of this work beyond the UK to assist with international marine recovery efforts. Techniques and evidence gathered will be captured and shared with marine conservation organisations across Europe to allow them to learn from and replicate the work.
Photo credit: Ocean Conservation Trust