Sussex councils team up on major natural capital project


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Two West Sussex councils have applied for permission to create a large ‘submarine forest’ of kelp – a project they say will boost biodiversity while sequestering carbon emissions.

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

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

According to advice, the 300 km2 of seabed between Shoreham and Selsey Bill was once home to a dense kelp forest that provided habitat for marine life, but this habitat has suffered significant damage since the 1980s, largely due to 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 to be able to support seahorses, lobsters, cuttlefish, sea bass, sole, black sea bream and other species. They also argued that there would be benefits in terms of reducing coastal erosion.

The councils voted to contribute £ 50,000 of their own funding to help develop the rental scheme. To attract external funding and, in the hope of making the project processes run smoothly, they will be launching a Sussex Bay Trust later in the year.

If the offer is successful, the councils said they could work with other local authorities to extend kelp coverage to the entire Sussex coastline.

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

Valuing British nature

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

The UK is already hosting a series of major salt marsh and seagrass restoration programs. 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 the investments of end-user companies, many financial companies are launching investment funds dedicated to natural capital.

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

But ministers face increasing pressure to ensure their approach goes beyond improving pockets of land and sea habitats – both to put the nation back on track to deliver on its pledge to leave. nature better for the next generation, and to ensure that its climate and nature goals are scientifically grounded and met.

Investments and jobs in nature, leading charities and trade organizations have urged, could and should also play a major role in the UK’s economic recovery after Covid-19. Wildlife and Countryside Link has estimated that 25,000 jobs could be created in the nature sector, while the Green Alliance estimates the figure at 16,000. Both organizations recognize that job creation could benefit the regions facing the most. major employment challenges. The Treasury had considered a new ‘national service of nature’ for those made redundant in the midst of Covid-19, but appears to have abandoned the proposal.


Biodiversity and commercial resources

edie recently hosted a series of exclusive biodiversity-themed content with the Woodland Trust, designed to inform, inspire and empower professionals to help them develop cutting-edge nature projects and strategies for their organizations .

Access these resources below:

– Downloadable guide ‘edie Explains: Biodiversity and Business’

– Covered podcast episode on Sustainable Business, also featuring Patagonia and Earth Security

– On-demand webinar, “Restoring nature through your sustainable development strategy”

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


Sarah george

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