Technological innovations shed new light on Scotland's seabedsUtilising the latest satellite and drone technology, CGI and conservation charity ...Technological innovations shed new light on Scotland's seabeds
Utilising the latest satellite and drone technology, CGI and conservation charity Project Seagrass have joined forces to support marine ecosystems – which are proving to be highly promising carbon sinks. By Nan Spowart
CLEAR waters surrounding the Scottish islands are helping provide information which will be used in the fight against global warming and the loss of marine biodiversity.
Images from satellites and drones are now being used to map seagrass meadows – which not only sequester carbon dioxide, but also provide valuable habitats for marine life and help combat pollution.
In the UK, it is estimated that up to 92 per cent of seagrass has been lost over the last 150 years due to industrial pollution in places like the Clyde and Forth estuaries.
Yet, while countries like Australia, the Netherlands, Sweden and the US have been working hard to restore seagrass in order to reduce their carbon footprint and boost fish stocks, little has been done in the UK until recently.
This began to change in 2013 with the establishment of Project Seagrass, a marine NGO which started in Wales and now has its Scottish base in Edinburgh.
“It’s been estimated that Scotland holds 20% of the seagrass beds of north-west Europe and so with careful management it’s potentially a stronghold for the ecosystem,” said CEO Dr Richard Lilley.
Initially, the aim of the charity was to spread awareness of the importance of seagrass meadows for their incredible biodiversity and global importance in supporting fisheries.
However last year their capacity to mitigate the effects of climate change helped to raise their profile, with some seagrass species globally thought to be able to sequester 20-30 times the amount of CO2 than land forests.
As the charity has grown it has become more involved in restoration projects, specifically in the Firth of Forth and community projects in the West of Scotland, among others, to bring back these benefits to Scottish coastal waters.