Seagrass transplantation for transitional Ecosystem Recovery
LIFE-TRANSFER project will support a transformative change towards coastal lagoon restoration to assure the return of biodiversity, ecosystem services and climate mitigation.
The aim of the project is to improve the conservation status of the critically important coastal lagoon habitat (a priority habitat designated by the EU Habitats Directive) by addressing the regression of seagrass beds in eight Natura 2000 sites across three EU member states (Italy, Greece, and Spain). Seagrass habitats (either monospecific or mixed meadows of Zostera sp., Cymodosea nodosa and/or Ruppia sp.) provide a habitat for a wide range of organisms. They operate as good sources for grazing organisms, spawning grounds for several species of fish, a refuge from predators, and as a substratum that allows attachment for many macrobenthic invertebrates. Because of these traits, seagrass meadows support a high abundance of flora and fauna, are common wintering areas of bird species, and typically increase the ecological status of coastal lagoons.
European seagrass areas have been reduced by up to a third over the last few decades due to disease, deteriorated water quality, and coastal development. To reverse the decline of seagrass beds in coastal lagoons the project will utilise several key strategies: knowledge consolidations and transfer, stakeholder involvement, and direct positive actions. With the involvement of local stakeholders (management bodies, fishing professionals) individual seagrass plants will be transported from healthy donor sites and replanted in recipient sites in need of habitat regeneration. The success of the transplantation and any changes to the ecological status and ecosystem services of the lagoons will then be monitored for the rest of the project.
For Greece, the transplantation will occur within the Amvrakikos coastal lagoon complex. The Amvrakikos gulf is one of the most ecologically important lagoonal systems in the Mediterranean, covering about 250 km 2, and including more than 20 coastal lagoons, making it a key site within the Greek Natura 2000 network. HCMR is involved in all stages of the project including the site surveying, methodology implementation, monitoring of results, knowledge transfer to local stakeholders, and dissemination of results to the general public. The project has a duration of 5 years (2020 – 2025) and is funded under the LIFE Project of the European Commission (LIFE19 NAT / IT / 000264).
Project Co-ordinator: Michele Mistri
Duration: 2020 - 2025
Project website: https://www.lifetransfer.eu/