A wildlife charity will be working on seagrass restoration in Cumbria after a large donation.

The Cumbria Wildlife Trust is set to rejuvenate seagrass beds in the Walney Channel near Barrow.

This ambitious project, aimed at combating the climate crisis and reviving precious marine ecosystems, has been made possible by a donation of more than £141,000 from Ozone, along with additional funding from the Environment Agency. The area targeted for restoration is located near Roa Island.

Seagrass is a remarkable plant. It's the only one that blooms entirely underwater, visible only at low tide. Providing a lush habitat for marine creatures such as crabs, anemones and varieties of fish, it also feeds wading birds and wildfowl looting for food.

Seagrass beds have a significant role in fighting global warming. They store carbon-rich sediment and remove carbon from the atmosphere, holding it in the seabed.

New studies suggest these beds may account for around 10 to 18 per cent of the ocean's total carbon storage, even though they cover less than 0.1 per cent of the overall marine floor.

However, the UK has witnessed a 90 per cent reduction in all seagrass beds over the last hundred years, including a 70 per cent loss in Morecambe Bay. Of the original coverage, around 127 acres remain in Walney Channel. This size is equivalent to approximately 63 football pitches, yet it's much less than it should be.

For a few years now, Cumbria Wildlife Trust has been examining seagrass beds, determining their size and overall health, in partnership with north west universities.

Thanks to this financial boost, restoration work on the seagrass beds can kick off. The aim is to restore them to their former size and vibrancy, ensuring their survival and that of the species dependent on them. Currently, efforts are underway to build a seagrass seed store at South Walney Nature Reserve. Simultaneously, the Marine Champions are receiving training to help protect and monitor the seagrass beds and broader marine environment.

Later this year, following further assessments, the team will collect seagrass seed from a healthier site. They will then conduct various trials to determine the most effective method for restoring the Walney Channel's seagrass.

Amber Gould, marine conservation officer for Cumbria Wildlife Trust, expressed her gratitude. She said: "We're hugely grateful to Ozone for this donation, as well as the Environment Agency for their support.

"This will enable us to understand more about the benefits the seagrass beds are providing to our coastline and the pressures that they're under.

"It's also given us the resources we need to help this fantastic ecosystem to recover, and to work with other organisations across the North West to bring about an Irish Sea that’s healthier and wilder in the long term."

The Ozone donation for seagrass restoration amounts to £141,964, spread over three years. The extra EA funding comes from the Championing Coastal Coordination initiative and Defra’s Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment (NCEA) programme.