In 2022, ReMEDIES restoration lead the Ocean Conservation Trust (OCT) began using a new method of seagrass planting at our restoration site in Jennycliff Bay, Plymouth Sound.
This was followed by another round of planting in July 2023, when a further 100 hessian mats, covering an area of 2,500 square metres were deployed. This brings the total area planted in Jennycliff bay to over 3 hectares. This is England’s largest seagrass planting effort, which aims to restore a total of eight hectares of seagrass meadows in Plymouth Sound and The Solent.
How does it happen?
Seeds for planting were gathered from healthy seagrass beds off the Cornish coast and in the Solent. The seeds are then planted into sand in 100% biodegradeable mats made of hessian and cotton. They are nurtured at our purpose-built cultivation facility at the National Marine Aquarium (NMA) in Plymouth until they grow into strong, healthy plants which are ready to take the next step of their journey, into the sea.
The OCT's professional dive team take them to our restoration site where they lower them into the water and pin them to the seabed. Over time, the mats will biodegrade, leaving behind flourishing seagrass plants that form lush, green meadows.
During this round of planting, our divers were able to check on the previous round of mats planted out in Jennycliff Bay in Autumn 2022. They were delighted to see an incredible extent of healthy, dense seagrass!
We will continue to monitor the condition of this brand new seagrass bed, while refining our planting techniques.
By restoring seagrass in this way, we’re helping to create healthy seagrass meadows that provide habitat for a number of protected species, are important nursery grounds for fish including commercially important species, help stabilise the seabed and reduce coastal erosion, clean surrounding seawater and store and capture significant amounts of carbon.
A voluntary no-anchor zone around the newly planted area is intended to help protect it from physical disturbance from recreational boating. The Queen’s Harbour Master, Plymouth has issued location details for this zone.
Previous restoration work
ReMEDIES is trialling different methods to find out how we can best conduct large-scale restoration of our precious seagrass meadows.
Our planting efforts in Plymouth began in April 2021, using a different method. Teams of volunteers helped us pack seagrass seeds into ethically sourced, biodegradeable hessian bags which were deployed from a boat through a four-metre tube. Early indications are that the new hessian mats are a more effective way to re-establish thriving seagrass beds.
Seabed habitats: Restoration and Protection
Watch episode one of our Secrets of the Seabed webinar series led by Ocean Conservation Trust. This first episode focuses on the work ReMEDIES is doing to restore and protect seagrass in five Special Areas of Conservation in southern England.