Scottish seagrass restoration boosted by £2m through nature finance initiative

New nature finance initiative sees partnership between Scottish Marine Environmental Enhance Fund (SMEEF) and energy company SSEN Distribution give largest-ever single donation to marine enhancement in Scotland.
Restoration of seagrass meadows is one of the activities eligible for carbon removal certification under the EU's newly-agreed framework.

Restoration of seagrass meadows is one of the activities eligible for carbon removal certification under the EU's newly-agreed framework.

Photo: Adobe Stock.

Efforts to restore and protect Scotland’s seagrass meadows are to receive a significant boost, as Scottish government organisation NatureScot announces that £2 million has been allocated for restoration projects through a private finance initiative. 

The money is likely the largest-ever single donation to marine enhancement in Scotland, according to a NatureScot press release, and comes via an innovative nature finance partnership between the Scottish Marine Environmental Enhancement Fund (SMEEF) and energy company SSEN Distribution. 

Seagrass, increasingly recognised as a valuable natural carbon sink, also plays an important role in supporting biodiversity, improving water quality, reducing contamination in seafood, and as a spawning ground for key fish stocks.

Seagrass meadows also act as a natural buffer for coastlines, absorbing energy from waves and thus helping to protect against the risk of flooding and storm damage.

Funding aims to reverse decline in seagrass meadows

However, NatureScot notes, seagrasses have been in global decline since the 1930s, with an estimated 7% of meadows lost per year. 

The new initiative aims to reverse this trend in Scotland’s coastal waters, with at least 14 hectares of seagrass to be planted. 

The Fund, part of SMEEF’s wider work on Scottish coastal, seabed and marine enhancement, will be open for applications later this year. Projects will be driven by local communities and full engagement and consultation with all interested groups will be essential to their success, NatureScot indicated. SMEEF will work with a range of experts to ensure that the grants are used to best effect and the impacts are monitored.

“Tackling the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss is a global and national endeavour which will require the collective effort of governments, businesses and our whole society to deliver the necessary change,” said Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Net Zero and Energy Màiri McAllan, in a press statement. 

“This announcement is a great example of the potential for unlocking responsible private finance to support nature restoration and could be transformative for our precious seagrass.” 

A "first-of-its-kind" private finance programme 

NatureScot Chief Executive Francesca Osowska also welcomed the project as an example of how different organizations can work together to take action on marine restoration. 

“If we are to restore nature at scale we need all those involved, including the business sector, to play a role. It’s fantastic to see SSEN demonstrating their commitment to a healthy and resilient environment with this contribution to SMEEF,” Osowska said. 

Shirley Robertson, SSEN Distribution’s Head of Strategic Planning and Sustainability, emphasised how the project fits into the energy company’s business plan, and said she hoped the programme would enable other businesses to undertake similar nature financing projects in future. 

“The restoration of seagrass meadows will bring tangible benefits to nearby communities both above and below the water level - not only is the carbon sequestration rate of seagrass estimated to be three times higher than land-based planting, the revitalised meadows will help to improve the spawning conditions for fish shoals and other marine life," Robertson said.

“Furthermore, the learning from this programme will improve understanding of nature investments and hopefully inform policy which, in turn, will enable others to join us as we all tackle the biodiversity crisis,” she added.

Related Stories

No stories found.