Portofino Seaweed Garden, Italy
Cystoseira forests are among the most important foundation species in the Mediterranean Sea. These complex habitats are essential for biodiversity, supporting food webs, sequestering large amounts of CO2, and being used as indicators of ecological quality. However, Mediterranean Cystoseira populations have been declining due to habitat destruction, human trampling and chemical pollution, which will likely intensify under climatic change. This project will involve marine outdoor enthusiasts in protecting, monitoring and restoring Cystoseira seaweed forests and their supporting habitat in Portofino Marine Protected Area. Using kayaks, StandUp Paddleboards and via snorkelling and coasteering, volunteers will help Outdoor Portofino to transplant, grow and monitor juvenile plants into an 89 hectare study site. Once restored, Cystoseira will immediately take back its role as ecosystem engineer, creating a 3D forest-like environment in which biodiversity can thrive. Training will be given on the importance of coastal ecosystems, and on transplanting and monitoring techniques, enhancing ocean literacy, public awareness and involvement in the area.