Seagrass and oyster restoration begins in the Forth

Scientist Richard Lilley is one of the team working on a new £2.4 million project
to restore seagrass and wild oyster populations in the Firth of Forth.

Pioneering work to create thriving seagrass meadows and native oyster populations in the Firth of Forth has begun.

The £2.4 million project, Restoration Forth, will improve the local marine ecosystem and help to tackle climate change.

It kicks off just days before world leaders are due to gather in Glasgow for the United Nations climate summit COP26, which is seen as the most important international negotiations yet in the battle against environmental breakdown.

Seagrass, often described as the ocean’s unsung hero, provides important habitat for marine life and is an efficient store for climate-warming carbon emissions.

Oyster reefs, which once flourished in the Forth estuary before being fished to extinction, remove pollutants from the water and provide sanctuary for a wide variety of sea life.

Restoring the two species is predicted to have multiple benefits, including enhancing the coastal environment, offering nature-based methods of soaking up greenhouse gases and encouraging local people to connect with the sea.

Over the course of the project, which runs over three years, around four hectares of seagrass meadows will be restored and 30,000 oysters introduced in the Forth.

Support for the scheme has come from the ScottishPower Foundation’s new Marine Biodiversity Fund, which was set up to mark COP26 coming to Scotland.

The grant – totalling £600,000 over three years – is the first award from the fund and the biggest ever provided by the ScottishPower Foundation.

Restoration Forth will be managed by conservation group WWF, in partnership with scientists, charities and local community groups.

Partners supporting WWF to deliver Restoration Forth include Edinburgh Shoreline Project, Fife Coast & Countryside Trust, Heriot Watt University, Marine Conservation Society, Project Seagrass, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Scottish Seabird Centre, The Ecology Centre, The Heart of Newhaven Community and Wardie Bay Beachwatch.

Read more Scottish seagrass and oyster restoration project to benefit Forth marine life and tackle climate change at The Scotsman.

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