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A Force for Good: Seawilding

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"My most memorable experience has got to be my trip to Rurrenabaque in the Amazon Rainforest in Bolivia. It began with a boat trip down the river where I unexpectedly had a monkey jump onto my lap to eat my banana."

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In September 2022, the True Travel team took a trip to the western coast of Scotland, where our Foundation partners, Seawilding, are based. After spending three days immersed in the intricacies of their marine restoration methodology, the passion, determination and resilience of Danny, Seawilding’s founder, and the team was evident in abundance.

We spent time listening to the tales of their successes, learning about the biodiversity of Loch Craignish and getting hands on with seagrass replanting ourselves. It truly was an eye-opening experience, one that brought us all together in mutual admiration, and now Emily Beor-Roberts, Europe Travel Assistant, recounts how she felt during her time at the HQ.

There is no denying the existence of the ever-worsening climate and biodiversity crises that threaten the future of our planet. At the beginning of September, myself and the rest of the True Travel team were able to see first-hand the harsh reality of these impacts as we headed up to the Seawilding Foundation based at Loch Craignish in Scotland.

Here, Danny and his amazing team showed us the devastating impact scallop dredging, fish farming, anchoring and pollution have had on the biodiversity in the Loch. Areas which were once filled with seagrass, oyster beds and a variety of fish and marine species have been left predominantly barren, with only patches of seaweed and the occasional tiny fish or crab passing by.

However, learning about, and seeing, the inspiring work that Seawilding do in the Loch provided a strong hope for the future. Wetsuited up, we headed out snorkelling in the Loch to see the seagrass meadows that Seawilding have already planted. In a localised area, seagrass provides habitats for numerous fish and different species, which was visibly evident in the loch restoration areas, whilst also capturing carbon dioxide from the water. Seawilding has already restored 1 hectare of seagrass in the Loch and through extensive surveys have discovered a further 80 hectares in the Loch that are suitable for seagrass restoration.

However, the current method of plantation is lengthy as the seagrass is gathered by hand and their seeds are each individually extracted and replanted, something we had a go at ourselves! This is not helped by the fact that the divers have to hold their breath and continuously come up for air. Therefore, with True Travel’s recent donation Seawilding are investing in scuba diving training for the divers so that their time spent replanting is more effective. This will allow them to restore more seagrass in the loch in a shorter amount of time.

Seawilding have also already restored over 300,000 oysters to the Loch and, with funding, are hoping to grow up to 1 million native oysters by 2025. It was fascinating to learn about the ways in which oysters are a keystone species in ecosystems, in particular, acting as “ecosystem engineers” as they work to remove pollutants and chemicals from their surrounding waters whilst providing a sanctuary for marine life to develop, increasing the biodiversity in the area. Like seagrass, they also contribute to the mitigation of climate change through their ability to sequester carbon. 

With the help of ongoing donations, Seawilding will be able to restore enough seagrass and native oysters in Loch Craignish to offset the carbon emissions of your travels whilst also providing vital marine habits which have a positive impact on the entire ecosystem. This funding will also help Seawilding grow as a team and develop their resources, providing crucial contributions to tackle the climate crisis and adapt to its worst impacts.

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