Carbon-sequestering kelp: Sussex councils team up for big natural capital project

95% of the kelp forest in the proposed project area has been lost since the 1980s

The plans have been proposed by Adur and Worthing Councils to the Crown Estate, which has permission to lease the stretch of seabed identified as the project site. The Crown Estate has never leased seabed for a natural capital project before; most offers are for offshore wind farms.

The 300km2 of seabed between Shoreham and Selsey Bill was once home to dense kelp forest which provided habitat for sea life – but this habitat has suffered extensive damage since the 1980s, largely due to the advice, according to the advice. trawling. The councils say 95% of kelp cover has been lost over the past four decades and if restored could capture the carbon equivalent of emissions from 7,235 UK homes.

In terms of biodiversity benefits, the councils expect the project could support seahorses, lobsters, cuttlefish, bass, sole, black seabream and other species. They also argued that there will be benefits in terms of reduced coastal erosion.

The councils voted to contribute £50,000 of their own funding to help develop the hire system. To attract external funding and, in hopes of ensuring that the project processes run smoothly, they will launch a Sussex Bay Trust later this year.

If the bid is successful, the councils said, there is a chance they could work with other local authorities to extend kelp coverage to the whole of the Sussex coastline.

“This is a potentially game-changing project that would help us reduce carbon emissions, restore beautiful marine and estuarine habitats and perhaps even make Sussex Bay a destination for a range of sustainable marine activities. “said the executive member of the Worthing Borough Council for digital. and environmental services, Cllr Edward Crouch, said.

Valuing British nature

Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that UK maritime assets have reached a value of £211 billion. But environmental groups believe that figure could be increased with targeted nature restoration and habitat creation programs, and that inaction could leave billions of pounds of assets at risk.

The UK already hosts a series of major saltmarsh and seagrass restoration programmes. What is believed to be the largest seagrass project in the country is the result of a partnership between broadcaster Sky and WWF. WWF is also working with Carlsberg on a separate large-scale seagrass program. In addition to end-user corporate investments, many financial firms are launching dedicated natural capital investment funds.

It is hoped that the UK government will soon be able to start investing directly in large-scale UK natural capital projects – particularly following Dasgupta’s landmark review of biodiversity valuation and following the commitment to allocate £3bn of international funding this way by 2026.

But ministers face growing pressure to ensure their approach goes beyond improving pockets of land and sea habitats – both to get the nation back on track to deliver on its pledge to let nature better for the next generation, and to ensure that its long-term climate and natural goals are science-based and achieved.

Investment and jobs in nature, major charities and business bodies have urged, could and should also play a major role in the UK’s economic recovery from Covid-19. Wildlife and Countryside Link has estimated that 25,000 jobs could be created in the nature sector, while Green Alliance puts the figure at 16,000. The two organizations recognize that job creation could benefit most regions facing the most major employment challenges. The Treasury had considered a new “National Nature Service” for those made redundant amid Covid-19, but appears to have shelved the proposal.

Biodiversity and corporate resources

edie recently hosted an exclusive biodiversity-themed content series with the Woodland Trust, designed to inform, inspire and empower professionals to help develop leading nature projects and strategies for their organisations.

Access these resources below:

– Downloadable guide “Edie Explains: Biodiversity and Business”

– Podcast episode covered by Sustainable Business, also featuring Patagonia and Earth Security

– On-demand webinar, “Restoring Nature Through Your Sustainability Strategy”

Additionally, to mark the United Nations’ recent International Day for Biological Diversity, edie’s editorial team hosted an exclusive panel discussion last month with experts from Unilever, the Thakeham Group, ECIU and Wildlife and Countryside Link. You can find this recording here.

Sarah Georges

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