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Seagrass which stores 35 times more carbon than the rainforests planted off the coast of Devon | UK News

Just off Plymouth, they are sowing hope.

Small bags containing seagrass seeds are deposited at the bottom, 10 m (32 feet) below the surface, in the hope that they will become a lush meadow.

It’s awesome to watch.

Sea rush
The seeds are lowered into the sea off the coast of Devon

Half a dozen volunteers from the Ocean Conservation Trust are on a barge, feeding the bags through a reused waste pipe that extends to the seabed.

The boat advances 200 m to the south, then comes back a little further out to sea, its heading directed by GPS above the planned meadow. It is no different from a tractor sowing a crop in a field.

Within three weeks, the seeds should germinate, pierce the burlap bags, and grow long grassy strands this summer.

The prairie will quickly attract marine life. Seagrass beds are home to five times more fish than bare sea beds; it is a nursery for juveniles.

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So it’s great for biodiversity, as well as for the local fishing fleet. But the attractions of herbaria do not end there.

The plant stores 35 times more carbon than tropical forests.

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As the leaves fall, they are quickly buried in the sediment, trapping carbon in their tissues. If the seabed is not disturbed by fishing, the carbon could stay there forever.

Emma Nolan is leading the project, which is supported by Natural England.

She tells me that 92% of the grasslands that once stretched along the UK coast have been lost, largely destroyed by land pollution.

A recent study showed that if seagrass beds were restored to their current state, they could trap 11.5 million tonnes of carbon, or around 3% of the UK’s annual emissions.

It sounds small, but nature-based solutions are incredibly cost effective.

Sea rush
The project is underway …

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This notice was published: 2021-04-21 20:23:00