Restoring Posidonia: encouraging results despite a difficult path
Posidonia meadow degradation is a major issue in the Med. Rebuilding the eroded areas is essential. The MedSea Grass project is progressing in this direction, mapping has been done and tools have been found! Signs of hope for Posidonia.
“The pandemic crisis and adverse weather conditions created many difficulties, but we persisted, taking advantage of every useful opportunity to carry on the project. Today we are about to achieve what we had in mind when we began”, says Francesca Frau, marine biologist of the MEDSEA Foundation and project manager of MEDSEAGRASS in Sardinia.
To restore the integrity of the Posidonia meadows in the Sinis-Peninsula di Mal di Ventre Island Marine Protected Area, it has been necessary to wait for the storm of the restrictions imposed by Covid to fade, and for the Mistral to not blow on the shores of the Gulf of Oristano, a north-west wind that beats Sardinia almost weekly.
The first phase of the MEDSEAGRASS project, in fact, was characterized by a mapping of the seabed, essential for identifying the degraded areas of the Posidonia meadows. Subsequently, several dives were necessary to verify which was the most suitable technique to proceed with the planting. On the 300 square meters of the seabed, several thousands of Posidonia oceanica scions will fixed to the substrate by pegs in the shape of a paper clip. Such supports will be removed only when the Posidonia cutting has taken root in the substrate. Indeed, an eco-friendly technique: the artificial material will be completely removed.
“We are just waiting for the authorizations from the Sardinia Region. For ecological reasons the planting will take place between March and April. It will last about a month. We are very satisfied, and confident that the model will be successful and replicable throughout the Mediterranean basin”, explains Frau, also referring to the mooring booking platform.
Irregular anchorages, throughout the years, have caused the degradation of the prairies, generally well preserved in the Sinis MPA. Starting from January 2022, however, it will be possible for boaters to book their own buoy. The platform, structured together with Bluemooring by Blueseeds (funded by the MAVA Foundation), is already online. Its use will later be extended to immersionists. Users will see online the availability of mooring buoys in real-time. Part of the payment will be donated to keep up with the conservation of the prairies. For the staff of the Sinis MPA, partner in the MEDSEAGRASS project, the platform will also represent a very useful tool for mapping all the activities that take place in the vast marine quadrant.
“Rebuilding the eroded areas is essential. Posidonia do not have the ability to recover on its own. On the contrary, they tend to weaken the surrounding vegetation in a chain phenomenon”, explains Francesca Frau. "Posidonia is our sea’s lung, a nursery for many animal and plant species. They dampen the currents and favor the conservation of our beaches. They stabilize the sediment and play a crucial role in mitigating the effects of climate change, thanks to its great ability to store carbon dioxide”
Discover more about the MedSea Grass project.
Photo credits: Andrea Alvito