Seagrass beds are nationally rare, a priority habitat of conservation importance in their own right and a UK habitat of principal importance. They are well known as providing important spawning, nursery and refuge areas for fish. The three Natura 2000 habitats selected in this project support both seagrass and maerl beds and are classified nationally as having Unfavourable conservation status. A key cause of degradation is due to the anchoring, mooring and launching of recreational boats. Both seagrass and maerl are sensitive to damage and recovery from damage is slow.
The LIFE Recreation ReMEDIES project aims to reduce the negative impacts of recreational activities on the marine environment, in Natura 2000 sites (Special Areas of Conservation (SACs)) where pressure from recreational boating is greatest and having the most impact. The project beneficiaries plan to develop tools to deliver the conservation actions needed to move Annex 1 habitats of the Habitats Directive towards Favourable conservation status.
The projects specific objectives are to: 1. protect from, and reduce, recreational pressures on 1 285 ha of Englands most important and at-risk seagrass beds; 2. demonstrate successful large-scale restoration and management techniques across the projects SACs and elsewhere; and 3. promoteawareness and inspire better care of the Annex 1 habitats by recreational users, and use networks of relevant stakeholders and public at a local, national and trans-national level to maximise the longevity and sustainability of the project actions.
The project contributes to the implementation of the Birds and Habitats directives through actions to improve the conservation status of habitats and species of Community interest, and the national prioritised action frameworks (PAF) for Natura 2000. The project also addresses the EU Biodiversity 2020 Strategy (targets 1, 2 and 4); the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (by ensuring Good Environmental Status and contributing to other targets); and the EU Blue Growth Strategy.
Expected results: 1. improvement in 24 205 ha of Habitats Directive habitat types Sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time, Estuaries and Large shallow inlets and bays across 5 Natura 2000 sites (SACs) towards Favourable conservation status; 2. 60% increase in boaters awareness of Annex 1 habitats and their locations through attendance at 10 workshops with 300 people; 3. nearly 2 000 recreational users (boaters, Royal Yachting Association instructors, charter vessel skippers and bait collectors/walkers) trained in developingmanagement options; 4. removal of 60 traditional moorings and concrete blocks, and installation of 76 eco-moorings; 150 stakeholders attending 3 annual eco-mooring workshops; 5. successful sea grass cultivation system in place, 10 000 plants suitable for transplanting produced, and seagrass beds increased by up to 8 ha; 6. 15 workshops held and 6 voluntary codes of conduct in place; 7. up to 100 m fencing and signage in place to reduce disturbance; 8. networking with stakeholders at 30 other relevant seabed sites; and 9. create 3.95 FTE job opportunities.