OCEAN REWILDING

Recent Context:

Ocean Rewilding is expected to come up in COP26. A network of 68 European organisations are working together to find ways to reinvigorate the marine life of the earth.

Introduction:

The world’s largest biodiversity hub is suffering at the whims of human exploitation. Coral bleaching, over-fishing, and sea trawling are a small sample of the many ways society has failed to protect its oceans. Only 13 per cent of oceans are now home to wildlife, and less than half are protected by any laws.

Land rewilding projects in mountain ranges and forests have become a stronghold in global conservation strategies over the past few years. Rewilding Europe currently has eight successful wildlife maintenance projects spanning from Sweden to Portugal which cover hundreds of thousands of acres.

What is Rewilding?

Rewilding is restoring to its natural uncultivated state. This is done by introducing animal or plant species that have been exterminated (destroyed completely) or driven out in a region. Ocean rewilding is introducing plant and animal life in the oceans and allowing them to grow without human interferences.

What is ocean rewilding?

A growing number of conservationists reject the notion that mass tree-planting is a “catch-all” solution to all of our climate problems. On land, rewilding differs from reforestation in the techniques used to assess what elements are best placed, and where.

The ocean premise is similar – reintroducing key plant and animal life into the spaces they are needed, allowing them to grow without human interference.

Ocean rewilding is now considered to be as crucial and effective as land efforts, due to the ocean’s innate capabilities to store “blue carbon” in their seagrass meadows, tidal marshes and mangroves.

It is estimated that the ­­average annual carbon sequestration rate for mangroves averages between two to four times greater than global rates observed in mature tropical forests.

Marine populations are also served better by ocean rewilding schemes that prevent their ecosystems from devastating human interference. This can include protections against damaging activities such as trawling and dredging from marine sediments.

Why is Ocean rewilding important?

Today the oceans have lost their capabilities to store blue carbon. Blue carbon is the term for carbon captured by the coastal systems and oceans. It is higher than that captured by the land. The annual carbon sequestration rate for mangrove forests is four times greater than that of a tropical forest!

Projects under Ocean Rewilding

Bio Restore Project

It is an Ocean Rewilding project that was started by France in 2012. It aims to restore the coastal fish population. Under the programme, more than eighty five species of fishes have been reintroduced in the French Mediterranean region.

Sea Grass Restoration Project

The UK’s seagrass meadows have vanished at an astonishing rate. According to some estimates  more than 90 per cent of them are lost in the last century or so; pollution, dredging, bottom trawling and coastal developments have all contributed to their demise.   

Seeking to turn the tide for these imperilled ecosystems is a conservation initiative that is being billed as the largest seagrass restoration project in England.

It was launched by the UK in 2020 as a part of Ocean Rewilding project. Under the project eight different sea grasses are to be planted across the south coast of England.

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