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Wales to lead UK's biggest ever seagrass restoration

Seeds have been collected from existing meadows in areas such as Porthdinllaen. Credit: PA Images

The UK's biggest ever seagrass restoration project is to take place in Wales to help restore marine habitat and tackle climate change and ecological emergencies.

Conservationists will plant one million seeds of seagrass, which they say captures carbon up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests.

Seeds of the “wonder plant” have been gathered from existing meadows in shallow, sheltered areas along the UK coasts, including Porthdinllaen in the Llŷn Peninsula.

Volunteers led by Swansea University have been snorkelling, diving and wading in to get them.

Pollution is one factor in the "huge decline" in seagrass. Credit: PA Images

If we want to provide our fisheries and our coastlines with the potential to adapt to a rapidly changing climate we need to restore the habitats and biodiversity that support their productivity.

Providing a demonstration of the potential for restoration of our marine environment to be meaningful will hopefully act as a catalyst for further recovery of our UK Seas.

– Dr Richard Unsworth, Swansea University and Seagrass charity director
92%
of UK seagrass has died in the last century, according to research from Kings College London.

The decline has been caused by pollution, runoff from the land, coastal development and damage from boat propellers and chain moorings.

Sky Ocean Rescue, Swansea University and WWF want the UK government to use the model the project is creating across the rest of the British Isles.

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.

– Alec Taylor, WWF Head of Marine Policy
The conservationists says local communities can help to manage the "vital areas." Credit: PA Images

How important is seagrass?

  • It accounts for 10 per cent of annual worldwide ocean carbon storage
  • 10,000 square metres of seagrass can support 80,000 fish and 100 million invertebrates
  • It helps clean the ocean by absorbing polluting nutrients produced on land by humans
  • By absorbing wave energy it helps protect our coasts from erosion.