Happy World Seagrass Day from Scotland!

Today’s blog celebrates World Seagrass Day with a look at some of Scotland’s work and recent achievements in the global fight to restore and protect this crucial habitat. Dr Richard J Lilley, Co-founder of Project Seagrass, tells us more…

When it comes to novel seagrass research, I’m really happy to report that in Scotland it if feels like the whole nation is beginning to meaningfully engage with the UN Ocean Decade’s mission statement – The Science We Need For The Ocean We Want.

From the outset NatureScot has been at the heart of this effort, supporting the launch in 2020 of a conservation genetics study for eelgrass (Zostera marina) that was conducted primarily in collaboration with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and ourselves at Project Seagrass.

Then in early 2021, at the very start of the UN Decade On Ecosystem Restoration, in Scotland we celebrated the efforts of the UKs first community-led seagrass restoration project in Loch Craignish, Argyll. Since then, the Seawilding programme has gone from strength to strength, spreading the #GenerationRestoration message far and wide at home, both at home and abroad.

In 2022 we witnessed public-private partnerships around seagrass conservation blossom, with the launch of Restoration Forth, a major marine restoration programme working with communities to restore seagrass habitats and native oyster populations in the Firth of Forth. This three-year programme has been made possible by funding from Aviva, the ScottishPower Foundation, the Moondance Foundation and NatureScot’s very own Nature Restoration Fund. In 2023 we can look forward to significant new programmes of seagrass research all the way from the Solway Firth in the south, to Orkney in the north, and what is more we have every reason to feel positive about the bigger picture. In Scotland we now have the first draft of an ambitious new strategy to halt biodiversity loss by 2030 and reverse it with large-scale restoration by 2045. I also feel there is a clear mindset shift towards both mobilising the citizen and mobilising the private sector to support nature recovery. In 2023 we need to continue to encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships for seagrass, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships to make the biggest impact we possibly can.

Sustainable Development Goal 17 is Partnerships for the Goals, which recognises that the Global Goals can only be met if we work together. To build a better world, we need to be supportive, empathetic, inventive, passionate, and above all, cooperative.

So, from all of us in Scotland – we wish you a Happy World Seagrass Day!

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