Seawilding is pioneering Scotland’s first community-led seagrass marine restoration at Loch Craignish and between 2021-2022, we have planted approx. 1/2 hectare of seagrass and in 2023, we plan to plant many more.
We are trialling multiple methodologies to understand how best to restore seagrass, at the lowest possible cost, and at scale. Our research results help inform the infant science of seagrass restoration and our projects are networked with other research projects worldwide. In 2023, not only will be continue to expand on our seagrass meadow enhancement, but we will also building a seagrass nursery to germinate seed with a view to planting seedlings in the future.
Loch Craignish has ten small seagrass meadows totalling approximately 5 hectare, and while these seem dense and healthy, they are isolated and fragmented. Yet, our extensive surveys in the Loch, suggest there’s around 80 hectares of seabed ripe for restoration.
This dark area
is a seagrass
Seagrass, Zostera marina, also known as common eelgrass, is an essential keystone species which sequesters carbon while providing a vital habitat and spawning ground for fish and other marine species. Our surveys in Loch Craignish reveal that there are twice as many marine species in seagrass, compared to non-seagrass sites. Yet these biodiversity hot-spots have disappeared around the UK owing to dredging, pollution and disease, and globally 92% of seagrass has now gone. In the fight against climate change, restoring seagrass is a top-priority.
Images: Will Goudy, Alasdair O'Dell
Over fifty species of fish have been recorded in one meadow along with hundreds of species of invertebrates such as molluscs, shrimp and marine worms. By providing a 3-dimensional structure in an otherwise barren marine landscape, seagrass provides a vital marine habitat.
The areas selected for restoration are alongside existing meadows which are either inter-tidal or in very shallow water where there is no risk of dredging, fishing, or anchoring. We employ a methodology successfully pioneered by Project Seagrass in Wales: seagrass is gathered by hand, the seed is extracted and then placed in small hessian bags tethered to the seabed where it germinates. We are developing best-practice, low-cost methodologies and producing a “how-to” practical guide to help other coastal communities do the same.
Videos by Philip Price/Seawilding.
This project is supported by the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund, managed by NatureScot.
"I've lived by the Loch all my life and I never knew how magical the seagrass was." Antonia, August 2021