The Posidonia meadows habitat (Posidonion oceanicae) is disappearing at a rate four times as high as that of terrestrial forests. Inventories carried out in Italy show that in the regions of Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Lazio, Liguria, Puglia, Sardinia, Sicily and Tuscany contain 204 grasslands that cover on average an area of 1 400 ha, making a total of 285 600 ha of the habitat. Based on available data, these prairies store up to 830 tonnes of carbon per hectare. It can thus be calculated that the prairies of the Italian coasts overall store a total 236 million tonnes of carbon. Taking into account the annual destruction rate of 7%, if the SEA FOREST project were applied to all Italian shores, a positive carbon balance of 17 million tonnes would be achieved.
The main objective of the SEA FOREST LIFE project is to increase the capacity of the carbon reservoirs of Posidonia meadows by reducing erosion and subsequently consolidating habitats. Specifically, the project aims to: Quantify carbon deposits and capture rates of meadows habitat; Analyse future developments, carbon loss ratio, potential carbon fixation and accumulation rates as well as the relationship between carbon emission and sequestration in degradation and erosion formations; Define standards for the evaluation of carbon dioxide of the meadows habitat; Identify good practices for the defence of these formations and their carbon sinks and for their expansion; Stimulate dialogue at national level to activate a network of companies and organisations to be involved in the carbon trading market; and Engage the network of Italian marine protected areas, in order to promote the transfer of the technical results achieved.
The project will contribute to the EU policy on accounting rules on greenhouse gas emissions and removals resulting from activities relating to land use, land-use change and forestry and on information concerning actions relating to those activities, as well as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020.
Expected results: Estimates of carbon deposits and their rate of change in relation to the degradation of the target habitat and definition of the carbon stock of this habitat for three protected areas; Definition of the environmental services generated by the Posidonia habitat that will help mitigate climate change; Definition of a standard protocol for the fixed estimated carbon; An anchor and mooring management plan in critical areas for Posidonia, accessible through an ad hoc computing platform and a free App for users interested in mooring in the area included in the plan;Installation of 120 sustainable ?Manta Ray? moorings to allow mooring in areas outside the Posidonia meadows; Removal of 120 mooring facilities that are no longer working and that are causing serious damage to the Posidonia meadows; Implementation of experimental pilot actions of Posidonia re-vegetation in the 120 sites from which the old moorings were removed; Definition of territorial agreements for the implementation of a sustainable beach model for the management of dead Posidonia leaves, promoting sustainable methods for its re-use, such as composting and the production of sound-absorbing fibre panels; Creation of a portal for the SEA FOREST LIFE carbon credit market, putting in place a nationwide platform for the purchase of carbon credits; and 800 students, 300 citizens and 5 000 tourists engaged in awareness-raising activities; 120 stakeholders involved in the workshops in Italy, 300 in the Mediterranean and 15 000 people informed through social media.