To date, efforts to reintroduce seagrasses in the southern Baltic have rarely succeeded. The goals of the joint project SeaStore are to understand why and to develop a comprehensive, scientifically sound restoration concept that takes into account key influences, both in the ocean and on land.
The joint project SeaStore’s primary goal is to provide comprehensive guidelines for the protection and reintroduction of seagrass meadows in the southern Baltic. These guidelines will help government authorities and other actors to assess, plan and successfully implement reintroduction projects. Accordingly, they will cover all aspects of seagrass restoration: from choosing the right locations and suitable seeds or seedlings; to instructions on how to plant them; to monitoring progress and addressing the question of how coastal communities, tourists and other interest groups need to be involved in the project in order to enhance its chances of success and public acceptance.
What’s new about this approach? Firstly, that all recommended restoration measures will have previously been thoroughly researched and tested in the course of the project. Secondly, the project partners are also investigating environmental factors that were previously overlooked, e.g. the diversity of the microorganisms on seagrasses and on the seafloor. Thirdly, the approach includes a growing aid, which is designed, as the name implies, to help newly planted grasses withstand the forces of currents and wave action, so that what start as a handful of seedlings can quickly grow into large, healthy seagrass meadows.
Restoring seagrass meadows means
providing a tremendously important service not just for the ocean, but for all
Yet the success of restoration efforts depends on a complex interplay of factors, all of which are being investigated in the joint project SeaStore.