New Kelp Forest Platform a Vital Tool for Global Restoration Efforts

The repository for kelp forest projects monitors the global progress towards restoring our underwater forests. 

Surveying Lessonia kelp forests in Chile. Image Credit - Alejandro Perez-Matus.

A new open-access database and community platform for kelp restoration projects worldwide renews hope in the fight to protect our underwater forests.

The Kelp Forest Alliance is a platform dedicated to advancing a global movement to protect, enhance and restore our world’s kelp forests. These vibrant and abundant underwater ecosystems cover hundreds of thousands of kilometres of coastline and support the lives of millions of people worldwide.

The project provides anyone with the opportunity to learn from hundreds of kelp restoration projects across decades of practice. Members can also upload records of their own restoration projects, promote their successes, and share their learnings to improve our understanding of kelp restoration best practices.

Program Director for the Kelp Forest Alliance and creator of the database Aaron Eger from UNSW Sydney says the platform is critical for practitioners working to bring these vital ecosystems back from the brink.

“We’re fighting a race against time to save our kelp forests,” Mr Eger says. “This database means that we can quickly accelerate kelp restoration projects worldwide by sharing what works. For example, restoration practitioners from Norway can rapidly learn from and share lessons with our friends in New Zealand.”

Behind every restoration project is a person, community or organisation dedicated to rebuilding a healthy kelp forest and improving our marine backyards, Mr Eger says. The Kelp Forest Alliance Community hub brings these groups together by creating an open, collaborative community for people to ask questions, share ideas, and build new connections to help advance kelp forests.

“Talking to people, we found that they would be exceptionally passionate about their local kelp forest, but they weren’t sure how to seek expert advice or connect with people from different backgrounds,” says Mr Eger.

“The Kelp Forest Alliance community platform breaks down those barriers and connects anyone interested in kelp forests, from conservationists to businesses to governments to artists – all are welcome.”

Together with The Nature Conservancy in California, the Kelp Forest Alliance has released a kelp restoration guidebook that shares successes and lessons learned from kelp restoration projects across our world’s seas. The guidebook brings together the expertise of 50 authors from 45 institutions and builds off decades of kelp restoration history.

“This guidebook is an excellent example of how collaborative, bottom-up projects can make a difference,” Mr Eger says. “Alone, we might be a drop, but together, we are an ocean.”

But the work does not stop here. With kelp forests continually under threat across our world’s seas, we must continue working together to revive these precious ecosystems while ensuring that the benefits they provide are equitably distributed through society.

The Kelp Forest Alliance is convening a meeting of global restoration experts at the International Seaweed Symposium in Hobart, Australia, in February 2023. They will set an ambitious goal for kelp restoration and map the best ways to accelerate learning so that they can truly advance the mission of restoring our globally important underwater forests.

Source: https://kelpforestalliance.com/

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