True Travel Times
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 Peter Felix, True Senior Africa Specialist, recounts how he felt during his time at the HQ.
One of the key partners supported by the True Travel Foundation is Seawilding – a marine habitat recovery project based on Loch Craignish on the west coast of Scotland. Their approach to marine conservation is a unique and innovative two-pronged one, focusing on regrowing meadows of seagrass, as well as aiming to reintroduce one million native oysters to the loch by 2025. The presence of both of these native species has been almost eliminated by commercial fishing practices, most notably bottom trawling, and Seawilding playing a key role in their reintroduction, not just to Loch Craignish, but to other areas across the west of Scotland and beyond.
Indeed, it is this pioneering approach to helping spread the results of their research and techniques to these other areas that is so inspiring. As one of the first such marine recovery operating in the UK, they take an “open source” approach to their research, harvesting techniques and results, sharing everything with other such projects, as well as helping them to deal with the (overly onerous in many cases) bureaucracy that comes with trying to run such projects. This was perhaps the biggest frustration that the team at Seawilding shared with us, in that it seems far easier to destroy the seabed through intrusive fishing methods than it does to help it recover and renew – roles that clearly need to be reversed as a matter of urgency.
Despite the relatively small scale of the projects they are operating, it is clear that Seawilding, as well as any spin-off projects that are set up anywhere else in the country, have the ability to have a huge impact on these key marine environments. Oysters are a fantastic natural filter for water, filtering up to 50 litres of water each, whilst the seagrass removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as well as offering a habitat for all manner of marine life. Perhaps my key takeaway from the visit is that our oceans are such an important ecosystem, but the preservation and restoration of them doesn’t get anywhere near the attention that they merit. Terrestrial projects are naturally hugely important, but very visible to most people, whilst the work the Seawilding team are undertaking will have huge impact whilst going largely unnoticed.
Our aim is to help change this and give the this amazing team and the work they are doing a platform to grow, develop and change attitudes towards marine conservation the world over.
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