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 Seagrass, Sky Ocean Rescue, Carlsberg 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.
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.
- Scientists at Swansea University set up the independent global facing charity Project Seagrass in order to turn seagrass conservation research into action. This is a major international success story for Swansea University.
- The Swansea seagrass team has contributed to a range of key publications on seagrass in the UK and globally: