Sky partners with WWF on UK's biggest seagrass restoration scheme

Sky's Ocean Rescue arm has partnered with WWF on a new project aimed at restoring carbon-sequestering seagrass habitats in west Wales.

Due to its fast-growing nature and carbon-sequestering qualities, WWF has dubbed seagrass " akey weapon in the battle against climate change". Image: WWF

Due to its fast-growing nature and carbon-sequestering qualities, WWF has dubbed seagrass " akey weapon in the battle against climate change". Image: WWF

The project will see 20,000m2 of seagrass habitat restored at Dale Bay, Pembrokeshire, following the death of 92% of the UK’s seagrass by area cover over the past century.

WWF claims that the flowering marine plant can capture carbon from the atmosphere and oceans up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests. At the same time, seagrass releases oxygen and provides a habitat for many kinds of marine flora and fauna.

The NGO chose the type of seagrass and the location for the restoration pilot in conjunction with Sky Ocean Rescue and researchers at Swansea University. Specifically, the Swansea-based researchers have found that seagrass accounts for 10% of ocean carbon storage annually, despite occupying just 0.2% of global seafloors.

Seagrass seeds to complete the project were collected from existing meadows around the British Isles by a group of volunteers, with no harm done to existing plants. In order to encourage the seeds to take, they will be secured in hessian bags - the first of which are set to be planted this winter.  

WWF and Sky Ocean Rescue are using the project to show national Government, as well as the UK’s devolved powers, the benefits of investing in seagrass restoration. The organisations both hope it will be used as a best-practice example for future government-led schemes in the UK and further afield.

“Seagrass is a wonder-plant that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, so its steep decline is extremely concerning; without seagrass, the myriad of amazing species that depend on it could disappear, the food we eat will be affected and the amount of carbon in the environment will increase,” WWF’s head of marine policy Alec Taylor said.

“Along with Sky Ocean Rescue and Swansea University, we are urgently calling on governments to use the model our project is creating to bring back these lush underwater meadows. Governments also need to work with local communities to ensure that these vital areas are well managed. The UK can become a global leader on restoring ocean health and combating climate change if it uses the solutions that nature provides.”

The launch of the project comes as green campaigners are urging Ministers to rewild at least one-quarter of British land, coasts and seas in order to reach net-zero by 2050 while boosting biodiversity.

And, on ocean habitats specifically, a coalition of MPs hailing from across the political spectrum recently set out a three-year plan detailing key policy actions they will take to champion conservation.

Sarah George 



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