Seagrasses provide a myriad of benefits and are estimated to be the third most valuable ecosystem in the world. Not only do they support the habitats of endangered species in the Western Indian Ocean, such as the dugong and the green turtle, but a single acre of seagrass can support upwards of 40,000 fish and 50 million small invertebrates, who use seagrasses as breeding, nursery, or feeding grounds. Such biodiversity means that seagrasses are also crucial as a source of food and income for local communities.
Nevertheless, seagrasses are disappearing at a rapid rate of 7 % per year – the equivalent to a football field of seagrass being lost every 30 minutes. Seagrasses are threatened by increased deforestation and erosion around rivers upstream. Tourists and fishers can trample and damage seagrass meadows, as can increased shipping and transport activities. Using destructive
fishing gear, digging for invertebrates, and seaweed farming can also disrupt seagrass beds.
The Guidelines on Seagrass Ecosystem Restoration for the Western Indian Ocean Region outline how to design a successful seagrass restoration project, using best practices, protocols, and case studies from the region and globe so that practitioners can focus on what is most likely to work for them. Produced with WIOMSA, the Guidelines also feature case studies from around the globe and Western Indian Ocean region, highlighting emerging threats, best practices and lessons learned.