The European project Ocean Citizen for the restoration of marine forests held its first annual meeting in Lecce, Italy, to reflect on the technological advancements of the past year in the restoration of these ecosystems. These efforts will not only benefit the health of coastal ecosystems but also promote practices transferable to other areas of marine conservation and sustainability.
Ocean Citizen’s primary objective is to develop effective strategies for regenerating marine forests using enhanced artificial reefs, combined with active participation from the local community and professional training, generating a new sustainable economic niche. The project aims to demonstrate the long-term viability and sustainability of these strategies.
The European Union is funding this project with €10,369,172.25, reflecting a joint commitment to environmental preservation and a drive towards global sustainable solutions. This project is laying the groundwork for future collaborations and developments in marine ecosystem restoration, offering hope and concrete solutions for ocean health.
The project also explores the application of other innovative eco-engineering strategies, such as floating artificial reefs and Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) techniques, a crucial milestone in addressing the environmental, social, and economic challenges faced by marine ecosystems globally.
The meeting, held in collaboration with the University of Salento, brought together expert partners from various fields and regions, reaffirming the joint commitment to preserving marine habitats. Partners coordinated the next phases of the project, including the manufacturing of artificial reefs, restoration and monitoring strategies, mechanisms for local community participation, among others. Preliminary designs and innovative strategies were also presented to address the technical and environmental challenges inherent in marine forest restoration.
During this meeting, advances in communication and outreach actions were highlighted, with special reference to the involvement of local communities; environmental characterization activities in the study areas; coordination of restoration activities; and methods for monitoring oceanographic variables that will support both the measurement of the project’s success and impact, as well as provide data to better understand marine ecosystem dynamics.
Project name: Marine forest coastal restoration: an underwater gardening socio-ecological plan
Project acronym: OCEAN CITIZEN
Project: 101093910 — OCEAN CITIZEN — HORIZON-MISS-2021-OCEAN-02