Conservation

New £2.5 million project launched in England to restore fragile marine habitats

written by Oceanographic Staff

The LIFE Recreation ReMEDIES project, led by Natural England, has received £2.5 million in funding to protect England’s seagrass meadows.

Threatened by anchoring, mooring, launching and trawling, seagrass meadows are now a critically endangered EU red listed habitat. They are slow to recover and easily damaged.

The project, running from July 2019 to October 2023, will provide environmentally friendly moorings, voluntary codes, targeted training and habitat restoration, in five areas across southern England.

seagrass meadows

“We want to make sure that everyone can enjoy England’s rich coastal landscapes, and this £2.5 million funding boost will help protect and restore critically endangered species and habitats as well as tackling climate change, said Natural England’s interim chief executive Marian Spain. “This project is a win-win-win for the planet, for people who use the sea and for the marine environment by protecting the delicate sea bed and restoring sea grass meadow, a vital carbon sink, as well as providing new places for boats to moor.”

The programme will directly train nearly 2,000 recreational users, helping to collect seed and replant seagrass, inspire better care of the seagrass beds by recreational boat users and roll-out solutions including advanced mooring systems that are more gentle on delicate underwater habitats.

The scheme has been awarded £1.5 million from the EU’s LIFE fund and is the result of more than 12 months of working together with several partner organisations including the Ocean Conservation Trust, Marine Conservation Society, Royal Yachting Association and Plymouth City Council. The other £1 million has been match funded from Natural England and the other partner organisations.

“Seagrass beds are massive carbon sinks, but have been severely reduced in English waters since the industrial revolution,” said Dr Jean-Luc Solandt, Principal Specialist of Marine Protected Areas at the Marine Conservation Society. “If – through this project – we are able to create new beds, and enhance existing ones, it will be of a huge benefit to fish and invertebrates. It will help secure and grow a habitat that is proven to absorb massive amounts of CO2.”

Photography by Graham Saunders, courtesy of Scottish Natural Heritage.

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