Kelp is the name given to a group of brown seaweeds, usually large in size, that are capable of forming dense aggregations known as 'kelp forests'.
Historically, kelp was abundant along the Sussex coastline. But this important habitat has diminished over time, leaving just a few small patches and individual plants, mostly in shallow water and along the shoreline. Through the Sussex Kelp Restoration Project, we want to bring it back!
Sussex Kelp Latest
A pioneering marine rewilding project, The Sussex Kelp Restoration Project, has launched to restore almost 200 square kilometres of lost kelp forest along the coast of Sussex. Thanks to funding raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery the Sussex Kelp Restoration Project has been established to ensure the successful restoration of a crucial marine ecosystem along the Sussex Coast.
The recently confirmed Sussex Nearshore Trawling Byelaw (March 2021) means the nearshore seabed off the Sussex coast is now protected from bottom-towed trawling gears after successful campaigning from the Help Our Kelp partnership, supported by Sir David Attenborough. Please see map for extent of trawling exclusion within Sussex nearshore waters. The implementation of this byelaw follows the formal local consultation process led by the Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (Sussex IFCA).
The Sussex Kelp Restoration Project is a collaboration of national and local organisations taking an evidence-based approach to tackle the challenges to the restoration of Sussex kelp. At the heart of the project are the Sussex Wildlife Trust, Sussex IFCA, Blue Marine Foundation, Marine Conservation Society, Big Wave Productions and the University of Portsmouth.
Our vision is to champion, study and facilitate the restoration of the Sussex kelp to support a thriving and sustainable marine ecosystem.
- To understand the ecological, social and economic value of kelp and the impact of the Sussex IFCA Nearshore Trawling Byelaw.
- To understand the role of kelp in the blue carbon cycle and implications for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
- To identify and minimise damaging impacts on existing and potential kelp habitat.
- To raise awareness of the importance of kelp as an ecosystem engineer.
- To research the need for and feasibility of active kelp restoration.
- To communicate research, developments and progress in kelp restoration to increase understanding and support.
What you can do to support the Sussex kelp forests
To understand the ecological, social and economic value of kelp and the impact of the Sussex IFCA Nearshore Trawling Byelaw
We have started exciting research to build an understanding of baseline biodiversity. This involves collecting environmental DNA or eDNA for analysis so that we can understand what species are present and monitor how that changes as the kelp regenerates.
To create a Sussex Kelp Restoration Network and working groups to develop a restoration plan
We recently held a stakeholder meeting to engage with the local community and build a network so that we can develop a coherent and collaborative restoration plan. It was fantastic to see such support and enthusiasm for the project.
To communicate and engage the public so everyone can understand and explore the wonderful underwater world of Sussex kelp
Coinciding with the launch of the United Nations Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, the Sussex Kelp Restoration Project will collect evidence to demonstrate the importance of restoring marine ecosystems including the economic and social benefits to fisheries and local communities. Sussex Wildlife Trust will be working with a local film-maker to inspire, engage and communicate the importance of the Sussex Kelp. This will be broadcast at a special Sussex summit on Kelp in November.
An underwater drone will be used to explore this incredible underwater world and give the public the opportunity to watch as the seabed transforms over the years into a thriving restored ecosystem supporting productive fisheries and contributing to the local economy. Beautiful and fascinating footage from a range of Sussex sea users is already coming in, showing the Kelp returning to areas where it has not been recorded for many years. Sharing and understanding these changes is important to our work.
“The Sussex Kelp Restoration Project is an ambitious and hope-filled project that aims to heal the Sussex marine environment, build climate change resilience and restore healthy productive seas for future generations.”— Sally Ashby, Sussex Kelp Lead.