British scientists are leading an international effort to replace seagrass beds in order to combat climate change.
Seagrass, the world’s only underwater flowering plant, isVital for biodiversity And absorbs carbon dioxide 35x as fast as rainforests.
Described as the world’s underwater rainforest, it creates a habitat for fish and other aquatic wildlife, stores carbon and nitrogen, and improves water quality.
A team from Swansea University is now working with the University of Portsmouth, Zoological Society of London, and others to publish a guide about seagrass restoration.
At least 44 per cent of the UK’s seagrass has disappeared since 1936, 39 per cent of which has vanished within the past 30 years.
“Seagrass meadows around the UK have been decimated,” said the study’s lead author, Dr Richard Unsworth, of Swansea University.
“Their restoration can now play a part in a much-needed response to fighting the climate emergency and the biodiversity crisis.
“Swansea University has played a leading role in spearheading seagrass restoration and conservation research around the UK in collaboration with its homegrown marine conservation charity, Project Seagrass.
“The creation of this handbook, with leading contributions from many staff, students and alumni from biosciences, reflects almost a decade of Swansea seagrass research in the UK and globally.”
The Seagrass Restoration Handbook The UK Environment Agency commissioned the work.
Tony Juniper is the chairman of Natural England. He stated that the seagrass beds help to lower rising sea levels.
“Seagrass beds hold significant quantities of carbon that would otherwise be in the atmosphere,” he said.
“They also help mitigate the impact of more extreme weather and sea-level rise while improving water quality and stabilising the seabed.
“In addition, lush, dense seagrass beds full of life show us what a healthy sea should look like and inspire us to protect our oceans.
“Although many of our seagrass beds are now within Marine Protected Areas, it is important to increase our ambition and add restoration to protection efforts.”
Dr Joanne Preston of the Institute of Marine Sciences at University of Portsmouth stated that urgent action was required to restore the beds.
“Now is the time for action; we can’t delay any longer the restoration of marine ecosystems on which humans depend, yet have largely destroyed,” she said.
“I hope this handbook will inspire and equip groups around the UK and beyond to get involved in restoring seagrass ecosystem and the wonderful biodiversity associated with them.”
Shrimps and other animals pollinate seagrass flowers.
A UN report last year revealed that 7 percent of seagrass beds worldwide were being lost every year. This is equivalent to one football pitch of seagrass per 30 minutes.
The UAE supports an initiative protect almost 30 per cent of the world’s oceans by 2030.
Florida has seen a record number of manatees die from starvation, resulting from the loss seagrass beds.
Updated December 21st, 2021 at 2:33 PM