...are the jungle of the sea. They are extraordinary biodoversity hotspots. They absorb large amounts of CO2 and release oxygen. They fix nitrogen and detoxify the water. They are nurseries for fish and hundreds of marine organisms. In short, kelp forests are a key ecosystem that benefits non-humans and humans alike.
But they are disappearing globally and one-third of the Earth’s coastline is concerned.
In Norway, over 80% of the original kelp forest is gone and has been replaced by urchin barrens. Overfishing of sea urchin predators such as large fish (wolffish, cod, haddock) is considered a likely driver for the population explosion of green sea urchins and the subsequent overgrazing of kelp forests since the early 1970s.
But it's not too late!
Restoring kelp forests is possible. It is a major focus for Wild Lab Projects, and we share this journey with various academic and industrial partners. In this fight to rewild the ocean, citizen science is a powerful tool in terms of conservation but also to engage the public and raise awareness about the importance of these forests for a healthy planet.
Join our biologists, restore kelp forests with us, in the water (snorkeling) or from land (helping those in the water).
Where: Near Tromsø
When: All year round
Duration: 5 hours
Goal: To restore kelp forests
Missions: 1/ Removing urchins, 2/ Monitoring the return of kelp and associated species
What are the goals of the project?
- Restore the Norwegian kelp forest, one small patch at a time and progressively over larger areas.
- Raise awareness of the importance of kelp.
How you can contribute
Removing sea urchins
This you can do with us, in the water (snorkeling with a warm neoprene suit) and on the shore.
Here too, you can participate in the water and on the shore. This is the citizen science side of the project.
We document the restoration efforts. We want to see that our efforts are productive. For this, we co designed simple methods with our research partner NIVA. For example, we measure the drop in urchin density and the return of kelp and key marine organisms. With a proper training, anyone can join and contribute effectively. Eventually, we share our data with our research partner NIVA who publish the results in scientific and mainstream media.
NIVA is our historical partner for this project. NIVA is Norway’s leading institute for fundamental and applied research on marine waters. NIVA committed to analyzing the data and communicating the results.
The Research Council of Norway
The Research Council of Norway (Forskningsrådet in Norwegian) is the first funding body to have supported one of our citizen science projects, before we created Wild Lab Projects. Thanks to this funding, we were able to form a partnership with NIVA and kickstart this citizen science kelp restoration project.
Tromsø municipality supports our project to restore a stretch of kelp forest near the city center. They facilitates the project where possible.
The Observatorium is an art & community project initiated by the municipality, and located at the edge of our restoration site in Tromsø city center. The Observatorium is now taking shape under the hands of Lawrence Malstaf (a world-renown artist living in Tromsø), and will be a place to observe nature, from the sky to the bottom of the sea.
Tarevoktere is a non-profit organisation working with kelp forest restoration. Tarevoktere and Wild Lab Projects share a common goal: the return of kelp forests! Tarevoktere were involved at the start to select our first restoration site, and to realise a state zero.
What will happen next?
The success of this project partly depends on public participation. There would simply be no citizen science without the contribution of citizen scientists. Since your observations are shared with our research partner, Wild Lab's responsibility is to make sure that the results reach you. For one, you will appreciate seeing that your contribution has been useful and productive. For us, reporting is a way to maintain a connection with our participants, to keep raising awareness and growing a sense of caring, and to maintain a community of nature advocates. There are many places in the world where kelp needs help including Japan, Chile, California, Tasmania, New Zealand. Maybe you live near one of them and joining our project will inspire you to start a reforestation project somewhere else. We will help you the best we can.