British seagrass could help tackle climate change

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Scientists are harvesting seeds from a plant that grows around the British coastline in a bid to help prevent a global environmental catastrophe.

Seagrass grows in meadows under the sea and can capture carbon much faster than tropical rainforests.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) hopes that by gathering seeds and nurturing vast new areas of growth they might ultimately minimise some of the damage caused by incidents such as the recent Amazonian forest fires.

Supported by Sky Ocean Rescue and Swansea University, work has already begun on a pilot project to prove to politicians worldwide that it is a project worth backing.

Seagrass is an important habitat for marine wildlife

Speaking to Sky News as volunteers set about diving and snorkelling to collect seeds at Porthdinllaen in Wales, Dr Jenny Oates of the WWF said: “Seagrass is great at extracting carbon from the environment and storing it away in plant material and sediment.

“In fact it can store carbon 35 times faster than tropical rainforests and so can help provide a solution to climate change.”

But Dr Oates says politicians globally should stop overlooking the crucial role that seagrass can play.

“Governments haven’t been doing enough, just in the UK we’ve lost over 92% of our seagrass beds,” she said.

“But I think they’re starting to realise the importance of this habitat as a protection for marine wildlife, but also as a really important way of addressing the climate emergency.”

Pollution has played a major part in reducing seagrass in the UK by 92 % in the past century.

Dr Oates says governments need to do much more to protect Seagrass beds

Seagrass grows in many oceans around the world and is also a critical habitat for endangered species such as turtles.

Dr Richard Unsworth of Swansea University said that the aim of the pilot project was to collect one million seeds to be grown in laboratories and then planted later this year over two hectares off the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales.

Credit: Mike McCarthy

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