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Alderney Wildlife Trust wins praise in national body review

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ALDERNEY’S efforts to help seed a Welsh seagrass bed have been recognised by the National Wildlife Trust in its review of the year.

Eelgrass, a species of seagrass, thriving off Wales after seeds were harvested by the Alderney Wildlife Trust. (Picture copyright Paul Naylor)

The work of the Alderney team received several mentions, and it was also singled out as having collected some 200kg of waste from the island’s beaches over the year.

Seeds from the underwater seagrass meadows at Longis nature reserve were collected and donated to a new meadow being planted off the Welsh coast.

‘The trust sustainably harvested seeds for Swansea University to germinate, before being transferred to small Hessian bags to be planted underwater,’ said a summary of the NWT’s review.

Director of living seas Joan Edwards said that as well as being essential for wildlife, healthy seas were a key part of mitigating climate change.

‘Oceans are the largest sink for man-made carbon dioxide. It’s estimated they absorb between 20% and 35% man-made CO2 each year,’ she said.

‘We need to protect and restore blue carbon habitats such as seagrass meadows and salt marshes as one of our most effective and natural solutions to the climate emergency.’

The affected area off Wales lost 92% of its seagrass habitat during the 1920s and 1930s due to climate change and practices such as dredging, which strip the seabed.

Seagrass stores about twice as much carbon per hectare as terrestrial soil and Alderney’s seagrass was chosen because it tolerates warmer waters.

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Last August, Dr Bettina Walter, from Swansea University, was in the islands collecting seeds from beds of common eelgrass, aided by the Biodiversity Partnership during her time in Guernsey.

The National Wildlife Trust also singled out Alderney’s beach-cleaning efforts.

‘We’ve done quite a lot of beach cleans this year,’ said head of outreach Claire Thorpe.

As well as cleans by volunteers, the trust also arranges for school children to get involved, while during the summer there is a paid-for cleaner.

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While some of the items found may have blown onto the beach from the Impot or recycling sites she said that most of the rubbish came from the Channel. ‘Sometimes we get really unusual items of litter,’ she said. ‘There was a mop found and quite a few packets of Portuguese sauce.’

On average, about 20 people turn out to the beach cleans, said Miss Thorpe, although as many as 30 could go along when there is a clean as part of a national event.

‘I think people are really paying more attention to the marine environment and becoming more aware of how much life is in our oceans.’

The next clean-up will be carried out as part of the Channel Islands beach clean on 11 and 12 January.

Mark Ogier

By Mark Ogier
News reporter

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