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The Challenge

As the world is facing a climate emergency enhancing long term carbon storage has never been more important.

Seagrass, which grows in large, lush underwater meadows, could be part of the solution with its ability to capture carbon from the atmosphere (up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests).

However, after centuries of industrialisation and overexploitation many areas have been left barren. Once degraded, these former seagrass environments become a source rather than a sink for carbon.

The method

Dr Richard Unsworth and researchers in the College of Science are developing methods that restore seagrass meadows at scale.

Working with a range of organisations including Project Seagrass, Sky Ocean Rescue and WWF, and collaborating with local communities and UK Government, the team are undertaking a large seagrass restoration project in the UK have starting with the planting of 2 hectare meadows.

The 2 hectares of seagrass are only the start. By building on progress made by scientists in the US, Richard and his team, along with their partners, are working on upscaling seagrass restoration methods - including enhancing automation and using sequencing to analyse and understand the microbial associations of seagrass.

The impact

  • The restoration and preservation of Seagrass forms part of the ocean’s role in halting climate change, protecting our coastlines from flooding and creating critical fishery habitats for more sustainable coastal livelihoods.
  • In collaboration with partners at Project Seagrass, Cardiff University and the Convention for Migratory Species (CMS), Swansea University wants to educate people about the importance of Seagrass meadows and develop strategies for their conservation.
  • Such work includes the development of new tools for valuation of seagrass ecosystem services in a new project spanning 5 countries across the Indo-Pacific region and the creation of a global citizen science programme.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Swansea University Research Themes