Investing in a sustainable future for our coastal economies - UK Research & Innovation

Six new research projects that aim to build a sustainable future for the marine environment, and those whose livelihoods depend on it, were announced today.

Researchers have received a share of £9.2 million from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to investigate how to safeguard the future of the marine and coastal economy, while protecting sea ecosystems.

Coastal communities are facing increased pressures from:

With the marine economy worth £48 billion, the research will help policy makers sustainably manage the marine environment and economy.

Challenges facing wildlife and communities

One team of multi-disciplinary researchers will investigate how and where meadows of seagrass can be restored in UK coastal waters. Seagrass is important in supporting marine wildlife, capturing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, and improving the productivity of fisheries.

However, many seagrass meadows have been destroyed in recent years, caused by:

Another project will investigate how the UK can better protect coastal communities from flooding and coastal erosion. Researchers will assess how ‘green sea defences,’ that work with nature, can provide more sustainable protection than the UK’s current method of flood and erosion prevention, using traditional hard defences such as sea walls.

Supporting marine economies

The five-year research programme, called the Sustainable Management of UK Marine Resources, is supported by the Strategic Priorities Fund which aims to increase high-quality multi and inter-disciplinary research and innovation.

In partnership with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Marine Scotland, funding for the projects has been delivered by two UKRI research councils:

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow, said: “Coastal communities, marine habitats and wildlife across the UK are all facing increased pressure from the impacts of climate change. Whether looking at the role of seagrasses to capture carbon or identifying behaviour changes to create a sustainable future, this latest investment from UKRI will further develop our understanding of the role nature can play in tackling the biggest challenge of our generation.”

Posted on: 26 July 2021

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