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Meadows of the Sea

IN DISCUSSIONS about the immense resources and natural assets belonging to Scotland, one important resource is often downplayed – that of the oceanic natural capital, in which, with our lengthy coastline, Scotland is (yet again) one of the richest countries in Western Europe. Not only does this allow for the exploitation of wind- and wave-based renewable energy, but also the natural biological resources of our marine life, both plant and animal. Scotland’s coastline is home to 20% of the total seagrass meadows of NW Europe.

Seagrasses are flowering plants which live in the shallow waters and inter-tide lines of sheltered coastal areas. These are not seaweeds, they are rooted plants which produce flowers and seeds, forming large dense meadows under the seawaters, and acting as a refuge and nursery for many aquatic species. They are a vital source of nutrition for many wildfowl, including whooper and mute swans. In Scotland, the two recognised seagrass species are eelgrasses. Seagrass meadows are under severe threat worldwide, with an estimated loss of meadow area akin to that of two football pitches every hour.

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iScot Magazine
March 2018

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