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Saving the Maldives' overlooked seagrass meadows

November 2, 2021

Vital marine ecosystems, seagrass meadows have for years been threatened by tourism and overdevelopment. Now conservationists are fighting to protect them for the future.

A diver examines the underwater seagrass in the Maldives
Seagrass meadows have not received the same attention or protection as coral reefsImage: Jason Boswell

Maldives: Seagrass beds provide a vital service

The Maldives welcomes tourists from around the world, many of whom come to the country to enjoy its crystal-clear blue waters and tropical coral reefs. 

The country is also home to seagrass meadows, another crucial marine ecosystem. Unfortunately, the meadows have not enjoyed the same environmental protection as the better-known coral reefs. For years, tourist resorts and development projects have dredged and destroyed seagrass meadows across the country. It is thought that up to 30% of seagrass habitats have been lost over the last century.  

Conservationists in the country are fighting back and have launched a campaign to help bring the spotlight to the rich biodiversity of these ecosystems and their importance for the future of the country. The island hosts eight different species of seagrass. Their meadows provide homes for many types of fish and act as important carbon sinks. 

Marine life on the seabed in the Maldives
Seagrass is an important building block for the marine ecosystem Image: Jason Boswell

Project goal: The #ProtectMaldivesSeagrass campaign aimed to raise awareness about the benefits, biodiversity and ecological importance of seagrass meadows in the Maldives amongst private tourist resorts and local communities. Now 37 resorts have pledged to protect over a million square meters of the ecosystems throughout the country.

Partners: The project has a wide range of international and local partners. The full list can be found here.

Budget: The project was funded by Six Senses Laamu and the Blue Marine Foundation

Duration: Project launched on World Seagrass Day in 2019 and ran for three months. While the campaign is officially over, the work among the network of partners is ongoing. Education around seagrass forms an integral part of the Blue Marine Foundation's Resilient Reefs Project. The team continues to educate local communities, youth and government officials about the importance of seagrass to ensure that these areas are conserved.

A film by Jason Boswell