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Massive Solent seagrass restoration to start near Beaulieu River, carried out by the Ocean Conservation Trust

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A MASSIVE restoration project on the Solent's underwater meadows is set to making a splash.

Starting tomorrow (Friday) and led by Natural England, the country's largest seagrass planting project will include around 20,000 seed bags dropped from a barge onto the seabed near the mouth of Beaulieu River.

Providing homes for juvenile fish and protected creatures such as seahorses and stalked jellyfish, at least 44% of the UK's seagrass has been lost since 1936, according to research undertaken last year.

Around 60 volunteers were at the National Oceanography Centre packing thousands of bags of seeds
Around 60 volunteers were at the National Oceanography Centre packing thousands of bags of seeds

Seagrass also helps stabilise the seabed, clean the surrounding seawater and capture and store carbon.

The planting is part of a four-year project, Life Recreation Remedies, to help protect and restore the marine environment, and is being carried out by the Ocean Conservation Trust.

Fiona Crouch, Natural England project manager, said seagrass meadows are "an important but threatened habitat".

She said: "Restoring them means restoring the benefits they bring to people and nature – vital homes for wildlife, enhanced water quality, carbon storage and so much more.

"We’re very proud of our partners, funders, and the many volunteers who have given their time to pack seed bags.”

Mark Parry, development officer at the Ocean Conservation Trust, added: “After the success of our previous planting efforts, we are excited to be getting under way in the Solent.

"These events are only made possible by the hard work of our partners and the hundreds of volunteers who are willing to dedicate their time to help restore such an important habitat.”

The project is also working with water users to limit the damage to seagrass caused by anchoring, mooring and launching of leisure boats, and introducing school pupils the importance of such habitats.

To find out more, visit www.saveourseabed.co.uk

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