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26 May 2023

Restore the Meadows: restoring biodiversity in the Nelson Haven

Port Nelson has partnered with the Cawthron Institute, OneFortyOne New Zealand, and Westpac NZ’s Government Innovation Fund on a seagrass project to improve biodiversity in Nelson Haven’s ecosystem and fight climate change.

The project’s focus on restoring seagrass meadows is highly essential due to their ecological importance and prominence within the Nelson Haven. The restoration of these vital habitats has many benefits concerning the Haven’s environmental health, including biodiversity enhancement, water quality improvements, and carbon sequestration.

Port Nelson’s Chief Executive, Hugh Morrison, has expressed his concern about the alarming rate at which seagrass meadows are being lost. “Our purpose is to facilitate regional prosperity, and a central pillar of that is protecting our environment,” he says. “When Cawthron explained their research findings to us and the potential for a successful restoration project in the Haven, we were extremely enthusiastic about supporting it.”


Pictured: Steve Alexander, Senior Health and Safety Advisor at one of the seed collections sessions.

Cawthron’s team, along with community volunteers, has completed the first phase of the project and achieved a successful flower and seed collection, collecting more than 3000 flowers in the Nelson Haven. Dr Dana Clark, Restoration Ecology Team Leader, talked through the process of extracting the seeds from the flowers and the process of germination trials.

“To extract the seeds from the flowers, we designed a tank that would hold the seagrass flowers while also allowing for water movement throughout the system.”

“From here, we conducted a germination trial, which yielded a 10% germination rate. We’ve got a few ideas for how we could increase this germination rate through salinity and temperature changes for upcoming trials.”

“We also managed to grow one of our seeds into a little seedling, a first for Aotearoa as far as we know! This gives us hope that our seed-based restoration will work, we are looking forward to continuing our research next summer.”

To find out more about the ‘Restore the Meadows’ project email: