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Wild Planet Trust and the Ocean Conservation Trust nominated for prestigious wildlife award

Conservation organisations Wild Planet Trust and the Ocean Conservation Trust have been nominated for the prestigious Great British Wildlife Restoration award.

The competition, which is a new initiative from the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), has been inspired by David Attenborough’s ‘Wild Isles’ documentary. It seeks to raise the profile of the hard work being undertaken by zoos and aquariums to help protect native species.

Wild Planet Trust – which runs Paignton Zoo in Devon and Newquay Zoo – along with the Ocean Conservation Trust – the charity behind the National Marine Aquarium in Devon – have been nominated for their work saving seagrass in Torbay, Devon.

The two organisations have been working within Torbay to turn the tide on seagrass destruction and ensure that seagrass meadows are recovering.

For Wild Planet Trust, this includes installing mooring buoys to stop boats anchoring and damaging existing seagrass and regularly monitoring the species found within the seagrass meadows, while the Ocean Conservation Trust has been growing and replanting seagrass in St Mary’s Bay. In addition, both organisations have held a range of engagement activities to spread the message about marine conservation.

Seagrass is incredibly important to our ecosystem, as it supports a vast number of species, ranging from young cod and herring to shrimp and seahorses.

Seagrass is also a valuable carbon sink, absorbing carbon dioxide up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests. In addition, these plants help to stabilise the seabed, which in turn helps to prevent coastal erosion and flooding.

Despite being such a vital resource, the UK has lost more than 90% of its seagrass meadows in the last century, due to anchoring, dredging and other damaging fishing methods, as well as poor water quality and environmental changes.

Dr Andrew Bowkett, Wild Planet Trust Projects and Partnerships Manager, said: “We are very excited to be nominated for this award and to be recognised for the work we’ve been doing to support seagrass. As an island nation, rehabilitating our seagrass meadows should be a priority for us all.”

Mark Parry, Head of Ocean Habitat Restoration at the Ocean Conservation Trust, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be nominated for this award alongside a whole host of inspiring projects. We are very passionate about protecting and restoring the UK’s seagrass, as well as raising awareness of the importance of this habitat, so to be recognised for our seagrass conservation efforts is truly exciting.”

The Blue Meadows initiative is one of 22 projects that have been shortlisted for the Great British Wildlife Restoration Award. Members of Parliament and Members of the House of Lords will now vote for their preferred projects before the ultimate winter is announced at a special reception in the Houses of Parliament in January.

To learn more about the Ocean Conservation Trust, go to: www.oceanconservationtrust.org 

To learn more about our working saving seagrass, click on the link below: