The UK's biggest seagrass restoration project

We are leading the UK's biggest seagrass restoration project

We are leading the UK's biggest seagrass restoration project

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 which is considered to be extremely high.

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. Evidence based conservation is required to reverse that loss and degradation.

Associate Professor Richard Unsworth and researchers in the Faculty of Science and Engineering are developing methods that restore seagrass meadows at scale.

Working with a range of organisations including Project SeagrassSky Ocean RescueCarlsberg and WWF-UK, 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, the seagrass team at Swansea University, along with their partners, are working on upscaling seagrass restoration methods - including enhancing automation, running field and laboratory based experiments, and working on large scale collaborative projects such as RESOW. The team at Swansea are now involved with seagrass restoration in North Wales, the Solent and the Firth of Forth and contributing their expertise to the creation of the UKs first seagrass nursery based over in West Wales.

The impact

  • The restoration and conservation of seagrass ecosystems forms part of the ocean’s role in fighting the climate emergency and responding to the biodiversity crisis. This work is also vital as seagrass meadows protect our coastlines from flooding and creating critical fishery habitats for more sustainable coastal livelihoods. The essential need for large scale ecosystem restoration has been recognised by the declaration of the UN decade of ecosystem restoration.
  • Scientists at Swansea University are working with NGO’s, governments and stakeholders to develop strategies for seagrass restoration in the UK, helping to solve biological, social and governance bottlenecks.
  • In collaboration with partners at Project Seagrass, Swansea University wants to educate people about the importance of Seagrass meadows and develop strategies for their conservation.

This includes involvement with a major international project funded by the International Climate Initiative (German Government). 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.

The text reads United Nations Sustainable Development Themes
UN Sustainable goal - climate action
UN Sustainable goal - Life below water
Text reads Swansea University Research Themes