Super seagrass to be restored in Loch Craignish

Loch Craignish seagrass. Photo: Iris Bevan/Craignish.info.

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Craignish-based charity Seawilding will join forces with Project Seagrass and the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) in a pioneering community-led seagrass restoration project at Loch Craignish.

Seagrass (Zostera marina) is an important inshore marine habitat which seizes carbon faster than a rainforest.

It turns bare sand habitat into a structurally complex, productive ecosystem full or marine life.

It is also a nursery ground for fish species such as cod, pollack, whiting and plaice, as well as herring and sea bass.

In Loch Craignish there are 10 small degraded meadows and the £145,409 project, funded by the Scottish Government’s Biodiversity Challenge Fund, aims toimprove an existing meadow by a quarter of a hectare this autumn.

If successful, the plan is to roll it out to other coastal community groups.

Seagrass seed will be gathered by hand, processed in a mobile unit and planted in hessian bags on the seabed.

Seawilding and members of the Craignish community will run the project while Project Seagrass provides technical help and SAMS, based near Oban, offers environmental monitoring and eDNA sampling.

‘This is a really exciting project, and builds on our ongoing plans to restore one million native oysters to Loch Craignish,’ said Danny Renton, Seawilding’s founding director.

‘It’s proof positive that communities can and need to play a leading role in the restoration of inshore marine habitats which have been so degraded by scallop dredging, bottom trawling, pollution and aquaculture.’

NatureScot chief executive Francesca Osowska said: ‘During lockdowns people around the world have valued the direct physical and wellbeing benefits of nature.

‘More than ever before, people are starting to understand fully and support powerful arguments to put nature at the heart of our emergence from this crisis.’