VIDEO: Saving seagrass isn’t just a pipefish dream – strategies to enhance its resilience

In this post Richard Unsworth discusses his recent Practitioner’s Perspective article with Leanne Cullen-Unsworth ‘Strategies to enhance the resilience of the world’s seagrass meadows

Over the last few years we’ve been increasingly interested by the #oceanoptimism movement on Twitter. It seeks to try and reframe the marine conservation story from a narrative of doom and gloom to one that seeks to see the positives in conservation around the globe.  Yes, we recognise that the world faces serious problems with its oceans, but we also feel that only by learning from conservation success can we formulate a path to solving the issues faced by the oceans. As an active applied ecologist working on seagrass meadows around the world it is hard to not always see the glass half empty when in fact we should be seeing things as half full. In fact members of the Project Seagrass team have themselves published more doom and gloom in a paper that describes the seagrass in the UK as being in a ‘Perilous state’. But the reporting of such doom and gloom needs to be conducted alongside an agenda of conservation solutions. From such negatives we have to refocus our efforts and see what actions can be taken to solve the problems of the UK seagrass meadows.

We know that water quality is the biggest threat to seagrass, but what can be done about it and where have actions for improved water quality resulted in seagrass recovery? In our new article we explain action at a catchment level that can be used to deal with this and provide some case study examples that provides the #oceanoptimism. We describe a whole series of actions that can ultimately result in improved seagrass health and resilience.

Our new article published as a Practitioners Perspective in the Journal of Applied Ecology builds on a cartoon figure that our Project Seagrass colleague Ben Jones recently drew. It has the slogan ‘Saving seagrass isn’t just a pipefish dream’. We felt the slogan was something we could build on as the academic literature currently provides very little in the way of a summary of how we could start to solve the problems faced by the world’s seagrass meadows. Not only were we inspired by the Project Seagrass slogan but by a short article in the Guardian Newspaper (10 steps to save the Great Barrier Reef) written by a writer from the Pew Foundation. We wanted to articulate 10 ways to save the worlds seagrass meadows. In the end this has ended up as 11 ways and has a slightly broader title ‘Strategies to enhance the resilience of the world’s seagrass meadows’. The 11 strategies we describe are all described in the following short film.

Although our article describes lots of separate solutions to various problems facing seagrass, in reality problems rarely come alone and are often cumulative and interactive. We describe how understanding local needs and requirements are the ultimate way of taking the right action to save your seagrass.

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