Oysters and seagrass to be restored in Firth of Forth waters as part of major marine restoration project
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The project, named ‘Restoration Forth’, will be awarded up to £600,000 of funding by the ScottishPower Foundation’s new Marine Biodiversity Fund – which was created to mark Glasgow’s climate summit COP26.
The award will be managed by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the leading independent conservation organisation, who will work in partnership with scientists, charities and local community groups to design a blueprint to restore and sustainably manage seagrass and oyster habitats.
The restoration of the two species could be beneficial in the efforts to manage the climate crisis. Seagrass are flowering plants that, according to the WWF, absorb 10% of the ocean’s carbon each year, despite the fact that they only cover 0.2% of the seafloor. Oyster reefs – which once flourished in the Firth of Forth – remove pollutants and provide sanctuary for a vast array of marine life.
Scottish Power Foundation’s grant is the first funding contribution towards the £2.4 million total cost of the project, which aims to restore up to four hectares of seagrass and 10,000 oysters per year by the end of 2024.
Ricardo Zanre, WWF’s Ocean Restoration Programme Manager said: “Coastal habitats like seagrass meadows and oyster reefs are vital to a thriving marine environment but across the UK we’ve seen their steep decline over the last century. This is a concerning loss in so many ways – for the homes they provide for marine life, their value in absorbing carbon dioxide and improving water quality and their importance as heritage for coastal communities.
"The Forth is an amazing example of a place where local communities working to restore coastal habitats can not only help to bring back these benefits, but also to strengthen the connection between nature and community. We’re hugely grateful to the ScottishPower Foundation for sharing this vision and their support in helping to achieve it”.
Melanie Hill, Executive Officer and Trustee of the ScottishPower Foundation, said: “We’re really excited that Restoration Forth is the first project supported by our Marine Biodiversity Fund. With COP26 about to get underway, the climate emergency is very much at the forefront of all our thoughts and there is no time to waste.
“This project – supported by the biggest-ever grant awarded by the Foundation – is a great example of how we can take action now to restore our coastal habitats. Thriving marine environments are crucial if we are to tackle the biodiversity and climate crises and Restoration Forth will allow us to make a positive impact in partnership with local people and communities, who are at the heart of the Foundation’s work.
“A large part of our funding will go towards developing a skills development programme for local communities to protect their restored coastal environment. This incredible work in the Firth of Forth will provide a blueprint for restoring ecosystems through a collaborative community approach.