ScottishPower Foundation Executive Officer and Trustee Melanie Hill talks about getting hands-on with a marine restoration project in the Firth of Forth. The first seeding event brought together marine experts and local volunteers to seed the Forth’s new seagrass meadow – and Melanie went along to help.
As part of the ScottishPower Foundation’s support of WWF’s Restoration Forth project, I got the chance to see first-hand some of the amazing work being done to strengthen and protect vulnerable marine habitats in the Firth of Forth. The project’s all about restoring seagrass meadows and native oysters and I was delighted to be able to play a small part in that by helping a fantastic team of marine experts and community volunteers as they planted seagrass seeds in test sites in the hope they’ll flourish.
This is the first project to benefit from the ScottishPower Foundation’s Marine Biodiversity Fund, and is the biggest grant awarded by the Foundation to date, so it was a privilege for me to be there to see this important restoration project get underway and exciting to be part of the planting team.
The Restoration Forth project is really making a difference. Supported by funders like the ScottishPower Foundation and local community volunteers, WWF has planted 25,000 seagrass seeds deep in the seabed at the trial sites of Tyninghame Beach in East Lothian, Pettycur Bay in Fife, and Dalmeny’s Drum Sands. It’s a real honour to be able to support this climate-critical work and to meet the passionate local community who are also playing a part in protecting their environment.
It’s essential that seagrass habitats and oyster populations are protected and restored. Seagrass has been proven to provide important habitat for marine life and act as an incredible tool in the fight against climate change, for example capturing 35 times as much carbon as a tropical rainforest*. Oyster reefs once flourished in the Forth – removing pollutants and providing sanctuary for a vast array of marine life – and with projects like Restoration Forth, they will again.
From educating and involving local communities – more than 4,000 people of all ages have been engaged through the first year alone – to the seeding event itself, the Restoration Forth project has truly demonstrated its value both here and further afield. The knowledge this project has provided will go on to inspire many others, supporting the safeguarding of other coastlines around the world.
The trial sites will be monitored and, when the seeds take successfully, large-scale planting will go ahead later this year with the aim of restoring four hectares of seagrass in the Firth of Forth by 2024. That’s a huge meadow that would have otherwise been lost forever.
Restoration Forth allows us to teach the next generation about the natural beauty of our marine life and the fragility of ecosystems. It’s an important reminder of what can be lost if we are not careful and a blueprint for communities supporting conservation work on the doorstep.
It’s brilliant to support the Restoration Forth project with its second year in full swing and see first-hand the impact they have had so far to restore the coastal habitats of the Firth of Forth. And I’m so proud the ScottishPower Foundation has helped fund this vital work because when it comes to the environment, there’s no time to waste.
Further information on Restoration Forth is available at wwf.org.uk/scotland/restoration-forth.