Seagrass project survives storms

A project to restore environmentally important seagrass beds in the Solent remains on track after surviving the recent storms – a welcome boost on World Seagrass Day (March 1).

A team of specialists, including from Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, hand-planted over 21,000 seagrass seeds at Langstone Harbour near Portsmouth in December 2021.

However, despite being protected inside hessian bags, it was feared the seeds may have been washed away during storms Eunice and Franklin.

The Trust recently inspected the harbour and found the planting bags had survived relatively unscathed and the project is still on course and it’s hoped seagrass shoots will start to appear in April.

With its dense network of roots, seagrass binds sediment together making the sand or mud more stable, which slows down coastal erosion. Seagrass is also a globally important carbon sink, studies have shown that some species of seagrass can even store more carbon than the rainforests.

Dr Tim Ferrero, the Trust’s Senior Marine Biologist, said: “We were very concerned the recent terrible weather would have destroyed our restoration, but we’ve been out to inspect the site and the signs are good that the project remains on track.

“Seagrasses are amazing native marine plants that provide an impressive number of environmental services – creating a habitat for wildlife, supporting fisheries, protecting our shores from erosion, and capable of fighting climate change as one of our most effective natural carbon stores.

“By regenerating seagrass habitats, we will create a Wilder Solent, supporting increased biodiversity and sustainable fisheries, promoting greater ecosystem services, cleaner water and creating a natural blue carbon solution to mitigate the effects of climate change.”

The Trust, in partnership with Boskalis Westminster and working the University of Portsmouth Langstone Harbour Board, plans to plant a second batch of seagrass seeds later this month at Langstone Harbour, as well as at Seaview on the Isle of Wight.