Subscribe now

Project aims to grow one million seagrass plants in Mediterranean Sea

By David Stock

A project to plant and protect up to 50 square kilometres of Posidonia oceanica seagrass in the Mediterranean Sea by 2050 is under way in Sardinia, Italy.

Seagrass is renowned for its ability to capture carbon up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests and accounts for up to 10 per cent of the ocean’s capacity to store carbon. Owing to the impacts of pollution, disease and human disturbance, seagrass meadows are in severe decline globally.

“Our objective is to plant one million cuttings,” says Alessio Satta, president of MEDSEA Foundation, the environmental non-profit organisation behind the project. But planting is just one part of the effort. “We have to identify and put in place management solutions like eco-mooring or anti-trawling systems to avoid any kind of trawling impact on Posidonia,” says Satta. In Sardinia, the new cuttings are within the protected marine area of the Sinis peninsula, and to ensure their safe maturation the team also dropped 60 anti-trawl barriers onto the seafloor.

Seagrass also provides a habitat for marine species and plays an important role in dissipating wave energy, protecting coastlines and coastal communities. “If there was no seagrass there, then the coastal areas would get much more damaged,” says Lucy Woodall, a marine biologist at the University of Exeter, UK, and a science team member at Extreme E, an electric-vehicle racing organisation that is a partner on the project.