The Scottish marine and coastal restoration funding initiative Scottish Marine Environmental Enhancement Fund (SMEEF) is to receive more than £2m of additional funding to protect and restore Scottish seagrass meadows.

The donation comes from a new partnership between SMEEF and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution and is believed to be the largest-ever single donation to marine enhancement in Scotland.

As the only true flowering plant in the sea, expanding seagrass distribution across Scotland’s waters could have many benefits. Seagrass can also improve water quality, reduce contamination in seafood, act as the first line of defence along coasts by reducing wave energy as well as provide essential habitats and food for many species found in shallow and intertidal waters.

Unlocking responsible private financing 

Shirley Robertson, SSEN Distribution’s Head of Strategic Planning and Sustainability, said:

“The restoration of seagrass meadows will bring tangible benefits to nearby communities both above and below the water level – not only is the carbon sequestration rate of seagrass estimated to be three times higher than land-based planting, the revitalised meadows will help to improve the spawning conditions for fish shoals and other marine life. Furthermore,  the learning from this programme will improve understanding of nature investments and hopefully inform policy which, in turn, will enable others to join us as we all tackle the biodiversity crisis.”


Photo: NatureScot


SMEEF began in 2021 and has secured and awarded more than £3.3m to marine enhancement work across Scotland. Proposals go through a bespoke due diligence process to ensure confidence in the awarding process, it is expected the SSEN-SMEEF funding will open for applications later in 2024 and will aim to fund work driven by local communities and thorough engagement of all stakeholders. The initiative will see at least 14ha of seagrass being planted in Scottish coastal waters with ambitions to combat the current global declines in seagrass meadows. It is estimated 7% of seagrass meadows are being lost each year.

Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Net Zero and Energy Màiri McAllan said: “This announcement is a great example of the potential for unlocking responsible private finance to support nature restoration and could be transformative for our precious seagrass.”

Read the full press release from NatureScot here.

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