New project on seagrass recolonisation in Mediterranean coastal lagoons

LIFE-TRANSFER – Seagrass transplantation for transitional Ecosystem Recovery

A new LIFE19 NAT project has recently started with the participation of:

  • Università degli Studi di Ferrara, Italy – Coordinator
  • Amvrakikos gulf – Lefkada Management Agency, Greece
  • Comunidad Autonóma de la Región de Murcia – Consejería de Agua, Agricultura, Ganadería, Pesca y Medio Ambiente – Dirección General de Mar Menor, Spain
  • Asociación Empresarial Centro Tecnológico de la Energía y del Medio Ambiente de la Región de Murcia, Spain
  • Dept.of Environmental Sciences, Inf. and Stat., University Ca’ Foscari Venice, Italy
  • Ente di Gestione per i Parchi e la Biodiversità-Delta del Po, Italy
  • Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Greece
  • Istituto Delta Ecologia Applicata srl, Italy
  • Universidad de Murcia, Spain
  • Ente Parco Delta del Po Veneto, Italy

The project aims to improve the conservation status of Natura 2000 habitat 1150 (coastal lagoons) due to seagrass regression in eight Natura 2000 sites in three Member States: Italy, Greece and Spain. The specific objectives are:
1. Restoring and consolidating Natura 2000 priority habitat 1150 in 6 coastal lagoons, by transplanting submerged phanerogams to promote ecosystem self-sustainability and restoring water circulation in one lagoon; an area of 1000 m2 will be transplanted at each of the 6 lagoons with seagrass typical of that biogeographic area.
2. Contributing to achieve a good ecological state of transitional water demonstrating the effectiveness of the proposed actions to pursue the objectives set in the (WFD 2000/60/EC Art. 4).
3. Quantifying the value of ecosystem services provided by the lagoon environments and the seagrass meadows.
4. Training of future trainers in this techniques, targeting site managers/professional not participating to the project to ensure transferability and replicability in other sites.

The proposal aims to trigger the process of recolonisation of aquatic phanerogams in the above mentioned lagoons through the transplantation of small sods and rhizomes of Z. marina, Z. noltei, R.cirrhosa and C. nodosa, for each lagoon the species previously present in that area, to promote the natural propagation capacity through seed production and dispersion. The intervention technique provides transplantation exclusively by hand with a reduced amount of material from donor sites, with advantages in terms of (i) environmental impact, (ii) costs and (iii) application on a larger scale. In one of the study sites, it is foreseen that the application will also help restore water circulation.

Seagrass meadows represent nursery for fish and feeding for birds, increase the stability of the tidal flats and sequester large amounts of CO2. Submerged phanerogams are recognised as priority for the conservation of coastal lagoons, and represent one of the most striking examples of organisms that deeply modify the biotope to be called “ecosystem engineers”.

Project duration: 01/12/2020 – 30/11/2025

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