Image by Benjamin L. Jones

UNDERWATER FORESTS

The Plum Foundation is supporting Med Gardens, a community-driven marine restoration project led by Fundación Cleanwave in the Balearic archipelago.

As the loss of marine plants due to human activities is one of the most urgent problems in nature conservation worldwide, Med Gardens is working to regenerate Mediterranean underwater forests, reestablishing the shallow marine habitats needed for biodiversity to thrive and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

ABOUT MED GARDENS

Med Gardens team of scientists and activist is working directly on the field, transplanting or reinforcing algae and seagrass in small plots of shallow coastal seabed. When underwater forests regenerate, they create new habitats where other species of animals and plants can thrive, contributing to the regeneration of biodiversity and thereby optimising productivity in terms of benefits for society. Using innovative restoration techniques for seagrass and seaweed, Med Gardens started the restoration of

the coastal areas of Formentor & Portocolom in Mallorca, belonging to the Nature 2000 Network, protecting a total area of about 10,000m2.

Of the approximately 177,000 km2 of seagrass that exist throughout the world, it is estimated that between 7 and 19% of its current surface (about 33,000 km2) has been lost.

That is the equivalent of the area of more than 4 million football fields. Only in the Mediterranean, it is estimated that 446 km2 (more than 62 thousand football fields) have been lost.

Many seaweed forests of the genus Cystoseira have severely declined in recent decades. There are 47 species of Cystoseira in the world, and the Mediterranean host 32 of them, almost 50% of which are endemic (they only exist here). In the Balearic Islands there is still a great diversity of these species, which have already disappeared from many coastal areas of the Mediterranean basin. Unlike other seaweed species, Cystoseira reproduce only locally, and cannot colonize distant areas on their own. Therefore, to recover these forests in the areas where they have disappeared, it is necessary to carry out reforestation actions.

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© Max Lebigre - MedGardens