Protection by Improving Vegetation Structure

in Water (eelgrass)

This part of the project initially had two main deliverables, of which one was planting eelgrass. You find a very nice film about this measure under the link Films in the menu above. The measure was gaining quite a lot of media attention, read more under the link Media. The other measure regarding natural reefs for macro algae and mussel establishment was cancelled, unfortunately.

In 2019, the first part of the eelgrass procedure was carried out and a mapping report was made. Due to found conditions, eelgrass planting will be done in area called Hittarp instead of Fortuna.

The first part of the planting was carried out on six sites in June 2020. Shoots were harvested and replanted in Båstad, Helsingborg, Trelleborg, Ystad at the sites of Sandskogen and Löderup, and in Kristianstad, at the site Åhus. The design covers an area of ca 1 200 square meters totally. 

In June 2021, the large scale planting was carried out in Båstad, the location based on the results from the planting made in the previous year.

The recreation of natural reefs beneath the water surface in the identified areas was called off. The measure was close to carried out in Kristianstad, as planned, but the place identified as suitable is part of a private person's so called eel fishing rights area. The person opposed to the measure, and as this kind of individual rights are very strong in Sweden, the project would not have received a permit to carry the measure out. It was also supposed to be carried out in Båstad, but further investigations showed that this kind of artificial reef might exacerbate the erosion in this kind of area.

Macro algae experts stated that there would have been enough time for colonization of the reefs. This  is a learning. A transfer of stones might not have been needed, as colonization was promising.

There is a dialogue with the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (SAM). SAM has an interest in national guidelines for eelgrass planting. It has developed an action program for restoring eelgrass beds and produced guidelines for Swedish coastline waters. These guidelines and the findings that they are based upon are from an international context, not on the local conditions of waters surrounding Sweden since there is a lack of data and former research. The intention is to update these guidelines and make it possible to develop them. Different methods and their effects will be compared.

Testing these so called soft methods to protect the coast is innovative and has a strong win-win approach. After five years, we know that this nature friendly concept brings advantages such as increased knowledge of the effects of coastal erosion, increased understanding for the need for measures to be taken, and an awareness about the need to take care of the ecosystems. Hard structures may be of advantage to some extent in some places, but it is already a conclusion that softer methods, when they suffice, are more attractive, more sustainable and less expensive.