Innovation That Matters

SeaForester is tackling the depletion of the world's underwater 'forgotten forests' | Photo source The Earthshot Prize

Reviving the ocean's 'forgotten forests'

Springwise Earthshot

A cost-effective solution tackles the issue of underwater deforestation

Spotted: What do you picture when you think of deforestation? The burning of the Amazon perhaps? Deforestation on land captures our imagination, but the ocean has its own version. Every year, three million hectares of marine vegetation is lost. And over the past 50 years, there has been a 50 per cent decline in the world’s kelp forests.

Seaweed plays an important role in the planet’s climate by capturing and storing carbon. In fact, around 200 million tonnes of carbon dioxide is sequestered by seaweed each year across the globe. That’s equivalent to the annual emissions of the US state of New York. But coastal development, ocean warming, pollution, overgrazing, and heatwaves are all eating into this vital carbon sink.

One person who has not forgotten the world’s seaweed forests is Pål Bakken, founder and CEO of SeaForester. As the son of a seaweed farmer, he knows all about the decline in marine vegetation. Driven by its founder’s mission to bring life back to the ocean, SeaForester has developed a revolutionary low-cost technique for restoring kelp forests.

This cost-effective solution involves seeding stones with seaweed spores. The seaweed is then grown on land in special ‘seaweed nurseries’. Once the seaweed has grown sufficiently, the stones are scattered from boats into shallow coastal waters where vegetation can harness the power of the sun.

Other seaweed-related innovations spotted by Springwise include batteries and sound-proofing made from seaweed, and a process for enriching seaweed with protein.

Written By: Matthew Hempstead



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