Establishing an International Seagrass Experts Network

by | Jun 30, 2018 | NBFN News | 0 comments

Towards an international seagrass science, policy and conservation agenda, International Seagrass Biology Workshop 13–15 June 2018, Singapore

Seagrass meadows are critical to the functioning of healthy and productive coasts around the world, but unfortunately, they are often overlooked and unappreciated. UN Environment in collaboration with GRID-Arendal aims to convene an International Seagrass Experts Network in order to enhance scientific knowledge, consolidate management best practices and develop policy recommendations.

Goal

The International Seagrass Experts Network (ISEN) is a consortium of experts and practitioners who want to see seagrasses propelled into wider conservation discussions, make an appeal to decision-makers, work for the interests of local communities and unlock funds to advance seagrass research, conservation and management. Our vision is for seagrass scientists, local, governmental and intergovernmental agencies, and general public enthusiasts to collaborate to raise the profile of the value of seagrass ecosystems and ensure that these values are incorporated into coastal management and decision-making processes for the sustainable management and conservation of seagrass.  ISEN will be posed various challenges for increasing the impact of seagrass scientific knowledge on coastal management, and national and international policy-making. The first output of ISEN is a global synthesis document that will serve as a call to action to managers and decision makers, and highlight the range of values of seagrasses to people around the world.

More specifically, the report will achieve the following: • provide an overview of global seagrass distribution as well as associated biodiversity, and present the most significant threats and drivers of seagrass loss; • highlight the key ecosystem services and their link to human well-being; • compile the existing knowledge and identify data gaps, where future research efforts should focus in order to gain a full understanding of the status and value of seagrasses both to the marine environment and human wellbeing; • explore the different management options and develop policy recommendations to support seagrass conservation, sustainable management and restoration. • analyze the viability, barriers and potential for seagrass ecosystems to access carbon markets or other payment for ecosystem services schemes.

Workshop layout

The workshop began with presentations of the main themes of the global synthesis document. Participants then engaged in break-out groups chaired by ISEN core members (Gabriel Grimsditch, Maria Potourouglou and Steven Lutz) to plan the global synthesis report, their involvement and contribution, future steps and activities.

Theme 1 – Financial schemes (Gabriel Grimsditch) barriers and opportunities for seagrasses in the carbon market
Theme 2 – Science (Maria Potouroglou) identifying gaps and priorities in science and exploring ways to advance seagrass ecosystem service research
Theme 3 – Policy (Steven Lutz) prioritising seagrasses in climate policy

For more information contact Maria Potouroglou, maria.potouroglou@grida.no