It’s a cold crisp February morning in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Forty volunteers from far and wide gather with villagers and scientists in Dale Bay to do something that’s never been done in the UK on this scale.
They are planting seagrass seedlings, and not just a few. They are planting 750,000 seedlings as part of the country’s biggest ever seagrass meadow restoration project, to protect biodiversity, climate, and people.
Seagrass is a marine flowering plant that exists in most of the world’s oceans and seas, stretching from northern Russia to New Zealand’s South Island. These plants evolved from terrestrial grasses over 70 million years ago. They often grow in vast patches, called seagrass meadows, which are true hotspots of life. In the UK, a seagrass meadow hosts 30 times more animals than an adjacent habitat.
A century ago, seagrass meadows covered the entirety of Dale Bay. However, pollution, coastal development, and damage from boat propellers and chain moorings greatly damaged them to the point where they largely disappeared from Dale Bay and the rest of the UK.
The United Kingdom has lost up to