Seagrass is a flowering plant that forms a lush underwater meadow on the seabed. It’s a critically endangered EU red-listed habitat and a UK habitat of principal importance. Seagrass beds support a diverse ecosystem which provide food and shelter for fish and other animals, from tiny invertebrates to marine mammals and waterfowl, are spawning, nursery and refuge areas for fish, including commercially important plaice. It stabilises sediment with its roots, absorb nutrients and cleans the surrounding seawater, it also stores carbon helping to prevent climate change.
There are three projects on seagrass currently underway in the Solent. Whilst each project remains independent, they work together to ensure seagrass restoration efforts in the Solent are coordinated and information on the health, distribution and extent of the seagrass beds as well as best practice methods for seagrass restoration are shared.
Watch a short environmental documentary about Seagrass meadows in Cornwall. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVX60lSGZfE.
Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust have launched a partnership with Boskalis Westminster Ltd to undertake a seagrass restoration project within the Solent, starting with an important research and development phase. The Solent Seagrass Restoration Project, which will be led by the Trust’s Senior Marine Biologist Dr Tim Ferrero, aims to identify the best methodology for restoring this hugely important marine species within the Solent, whilst also monitoring the habitat as a provider of carbon sequestration.
In October 2019, the Trust launched its Wilder 2030 strategy, which calls for a wilder future and 30% of land and sea restored for nature’s recovery by 2030. The Solent Seagrass Restoration Project is a vital piece of the puzzle in working towards the Trust’s vision and in partnership with Boskalis Westminster, the Trust aims to restore seagrass habitats in the Solent to their historical levels and in all locations that could support it.
This project contributes to the Boskalis ambition to further develop nature-based infrastructure solutions to protect and enhance coastal ecosystems. In addition to beginning work on the research and development phase of the project, the Trust will also be working to increase awareness of seagrass and its vital role in tackling the climate and ecological emergencies.
Seagrass Ocean Rescue is a project involving WWF-UK, Project Seagrass and Swansea University; it works with local partners in different areas across the UK to halt and reverse UK seagrass loss. The project target, through a series of partnerships with local to regional stakeholders, is to support the restoration of 30 kilometres squared of seagrass across the UK by 2030. It will also collaborate with other seagrass initiatives like LIFE ReMEDIES. Environmental scoping work, to facilitate future seagrass restoration, is currently being undertaken by the project team in the Solent to identify potential sites that might be suitable for restoration. This has included extensive surveys of the flowering and seed production of meadows around the Isle of Wight and the assessment of the underwater light environment.
LIFE Recreation ReMEDIES is a £2.5 million, four-year marine conservation partnership project to Save Our Seabed at five Special Areas of Conservation in Southern England, including the Solent. The project has produced a wonderful infographic all about Seagrass in the Solent.