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What are my options for marine enhancement and how do I choose which activities to focus on?

Marine and coastal ecosystems deliver a range of benefits to society through the ecosystem services that they provide. However, in some places biodiversity has been lost and with it, the structure and function of these natural resources compromised. Marine enhancement activities have the potential to increase biodiversity and bring back natural systems if done well.


The words ‘restoration’, ‘recovery’, ‘regeneration’, ‘rewilding’ and ‘habitat creation’ are used in different settings and for different reasons, but the term ‘marine enhancement’ can be considered an umbrella term for “actions that aim to improve the quality, size or geographic distribution of a habitat”. In general, the priority is to protect species and habitats where they currently exist and to remove pressures to allow natural recovery where a feature has been lost or damaged before active restoration is considered. The most common species and habitats which are subject to restoration in Scotland are:

  • Native Oysters
  • Seagrass
  • Sand Dunes
  • Saltmarsh

Other species and habitats may also be responsive to restoration efforts in your area, it is worth considering coastal amphibians, reef-forming bivalves such as flameshell or horse mussel beds for example. Whilst SMEEF only funds work on species and habitats which have salt water a core part of their life cycle as a community you may want to look at wider habitats such as coastal rainforests. Choosing your target for marine restoration can be difficult and we recommend that you spend some time looking at available data about existing and historic populations and then talk to local and national experts about what is possible, and what unintended consequences might occur, before deciding.

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