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Research Piece Feature (2)
15 May 20242 min read

The Potential of Restoring Marine Habitats for Marine Net Gain


Biodiversity Specialist and Sustainability Scientist, Nora Von Xylander has written the latest white paper on the The Potential Of Restoring Marine Habitats for Marine Net Gain. Read and download the white paper below.


Considering the global initiatives to become nature positive by 2030 [1], the United Nations (UN) sustainable development goals [2], and the new biodiversity net gain (BNG) regulations in the UK [3] there has been lots of discussion regarding developing marine net gain (MNG) [4,5]. As our oceans face unprecedented challenges, from climate change to overfishing, the need for effective marine restoration strategies has never been greater [6,7,8]. Here we dive into the fascinating world of marine restoration and explore its potential for MNG, carbon offsetting, and in securing a sustainable future for our oceans and overall planet. We find that the positive impacts of restoration and reviving marine habitats are wide-ranging, from enhancing biodiversity and supporting sustainable fisheries [9], improving water quality [10], to contributing to carbon offsetting efforts [11]. All helping to combat climate change and mitigate its effects on our planet.

The ocean, covering 71% of the Earth's surface, is home to approximately 80% of all life on the planet [12]. Healthy marine ecosystems are responsible for generating 50% of the oxygen that we breathe as well as absorb 25% of all CO2 emissions [13]. The Ocean and its marine habitats also play a crucial role in regulation the Earth’s climate and absorb up to 90% of the additional heat generated from anthropogenic CO2 emissions [13]. Accordingly, marine restoration holds immense importance in safeguarding the health and vitality of our oceans [9]. As human activities continue to take a toll on marine ecosystems [14,15], restoration efforts offer a glimmer of hope. A wide range of methods and techniques are employed in marine restoration projects, depending on the specific ecosystem and the restoration goals. These range from seagrass restoration, mangrove restoration, to coral restoration projects (see Figure 1). By restoring damaged habitats, such as coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove forests, we can create resilient ecosystems that can withstand the impacts of climate change and support a diverse array of marine life [16]. On top of being crucial for marine biodiversity, these restoration efforts can provide shoreline protection [17], carbon sequestration [11,18], and the provision of food and livelihoods for coastal communities. They can also act as a catalyst for positive change. By engaging local communities and stakeholders in marine restoration projects, we can raise awareness about the importance of ocean conservation and foster a sense of stewardship. Overall, through restoring and protecting these marine ecosystems, we can ensure the long-term sustainability of these services, benefitting both the environment and human societies.

This white paper is also featured on the British Ecological Society's website under their Applied Ecology Resources.