Work to bring back vital seagrass meadows that increase biodiversity help tackle climate change and improve water quality in the Firth of Forth, has begun in three key locations.
The Restoration Forth project , a partnership project working with communities around the Forth confirmed around twenty-five thousand seeds have been successfully injected into the ground at the trial sites of Tyninghame Beach in East Lothian, Pettycur Bay in Fife and Dalmeny’s Drum Sands. 
Seagrass meadows absorb carbon and provide food and a safe habitat for marine life to flourish.
The locations were selected due to being sheltered, and along with the discovery of remanent seagrass, it’s hoped they will provide suitable growing conditions. Over the coming months the sites will be monitored and if the seeds take successfully then large-scale planting will go ahead in March next year, with the aim of restoring 4 hectares of seagrass in the Firth of Forth by 2024, the equivalent of 5.5 international football pitches.
Alongside the seagrass planting, native oysters will be deployed to create reefs, which once flourished in the Forth, that will remove pollutants and provide sanctuary for a vast array of marine life.
Naomi Arnold, Restoration Forth Project Manager said:
“This is a really exciting step in the Restoration Forth project. As these trial sites have been carefully selected, we’re hopeful the seagrass seeds will take, start to germinate and that we can continue with further trials this year.
“Seagrass is the unsung hero of our oceans and can play a major part in tackling climate change as well improving water quality and enhancing biodiversity.
“The project wouldn’t be possible without the enthusiasm of our local volunteers and community hubs who have put in so much effort and hard work.”
Sandy Mitchell, a community volunteer from Dunfermline said:
“The Restoration Forth project is important in raising awareness, within local communities, of the future benefits that can be gained with the re-introduction of sea grass and native oysters into the Forth estuary.
“Involving people from the local communities gives them a sense of achievement and pride in knowing that they are helping to improve water quality, increase biodiversity and tackling CO2 issues in the years to come.”
Melanie Hill, Executive Officer and Trustee of the ScottishPower Foundation, said:
“This is an exciting milestone in the project to restore seagrass and oysters in the Firth of Forth, and we’re delighted to be funding part of this crucial programme to help tackle the climate emergency and educate the local community on the importance of these habitats to the wider ecosystem and our future.
“With the ScottishPower Foundation celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, the Restoration Forth project is a shining example of how our funding is helping project partners to provide the blueprint for further marine restoration projects across the country.”
Claudine Blamey, Aviva Group Sustainability Director, said:
“There are so many benefits to seagrass restoration – from increased biodiversity to carbon removal and reduced coastal erosion. So, for Aviva, supporting a project like this just makes sense and we are proud to play a part through funding and colleague volunteering.
“We want the UK to be the most climate-ready large economy in the world and our involvement in several of WWF-UK’s restoration programmes will strengthen this by helping local communities to be more resilient to climate change.”
This three-year programme is funded by Aviva, the ScottishPower Foundation, the Moondance Foundation and the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund, which is facilitated by the Scottish Marine Environmental Enhancement Fund (SMEEF) and managed by NatureScot.
+ Print quality images available on request.
Notes to Editors
-  For more details on Restoration Forth https://www.wwf.org.uk/scotland/restoration-forth
Restoration Forth is a major marine restoration programme working with communities to restore seagrass habitats and native oyster populations in the Firth of Forth.
Partners delivering Restoration Forth include WWF, Edinburgh Shoreline, Fife Coast & Countryside Trust, Heriot Watt University, Marine Conservation Society, Project Seagrass, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Scottish Seabird Centre, The Ecology Centre, and The Heart of Newhaven Community.
This three-year programme has been made possible by funding from Aviva and the ScottishPower Foundation; additionally, this project is supported by the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund, which is facilitated by the Scottish Marine Environmental Enhancement Fund (SMEEF) and managed by NatureScot.
The ScottishPower Foundation was established in 2013 to make a significant and lasting contribution to society, enhancing the lives of people living in communities throughout the UK. As part of the Foundation’s commitment to supporting the protection of the environment, its Marine Biodiversity Fund supports projects that contribute to the global objectives of protecting our seas and enhancing marine biodiversity. The Foundation awarded its first multi-year grant from the Fund – up to £600,000 across three years – to the Restoration Forth project in 2021. www.scottishpowerfoundation.com
As the UK’s leading insurer, Aviva is already a climate leader in the finance sector. In 2021, Aviva became the first major insurer worldwide to target net zero carbon by 2040. Together we have the reach and influence to help reimagine and start to reorient the way financial services function in a sustainable economy.
The Nature Restoration Fund (NRF) is a competitive fund launched in July 2021, which specifically encourages applicants with projects that restore wildlife and habitats on land and sea and address the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change.
In 2021, funding was awarded to 54 projects alongside a direct allocation of £5m directly from Scottish Government to Local Authorities. On Nature Day at COP26 the Scottish Government announced an expansion to the Nature Restoration Fund, comprising at least a further £55m over the next four years, with at least £12.5m annually.
For a full list of projects that were granted NRF funding in 2021, see our Nature Restoration Fund (NRF) - successful projects web page.
 Seeds were planted using dispenser injection seeding method, mixing local sediment with seeds and inject them into the ground. There are different treatments in order to optimise the method for our sites: different injection depth (2 and 4 cm), and different densities 80 seeds/m2 and 48 seeds/m2.
We will be monitoring the sites for seedings regularly and are expecting the seedings to be visible in May.
Photos ©️ Maverick Photo Agency