Objectives

The dramatic decline in eelgrass coverage in coastal waters during the last decades has serious implications for associated ecosystem services, such as carbon and nitrogen sequestration, coastal protection and biodiversity. The expected recovery of eelgrass following substantial reductions in nutrient loading has not occurred. A major reason is negative feedback mechanisms related to physical and biological disturbances that hinder or delay eelgrass colonization, by constraining the transition from seeds to established seedlings. Our research project is aimed for designing innovative eelgrass restoration techniques specific for estuaries and coastal waters in Europe. We will on a scientific basis develop new technical tools for eelgrass restoration, apply these tools at large scales, provide guidelines for eelgrass restoration, including climatic challenges through modeling, and provide a socio-economic analysis and assessment of the ecosystem services gained by restoration. Harvest, storage, seeding and planting techniques will be developed under consideration of environmental disturbances and tested at small and large scales. Long-term sustainability of restorations will be monitored and modeled based on the sensitivity of eelgrass to predicted climate change and analyzed in relation to the gained ecosystem services.