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Oceans and fisheries
News article4 December 2023Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries2 min read

AFRIMED: revitalising the Mediterranean's underwater forests

Mediterranean macroalgal forests of Cystoseira @Afrimed
Mediterranean macroalgal forests of Cystoseira

Embark on a journey with AFRIMED, a ground-breaking European project dedicated to restoring the degraded macroalgal forests (Cystoseira s.l.) in the Mediterranean Sea.

Funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), AFRIMED’s mission was to address the alarming loss of these vital ecosystems.

Gathering 11 partners from France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Morocco, Tunisia and Albania, the project started in 2019 and has developed actions for effectively restoring Cystoseira habitats in the region.

A hotspot for biodiversity and an important carbon sink

Mediterranean macroalgal forests are populated by brown algal species of the Cystoseira sensu lato (s.l) genera. These serve as crucial habitats for various species, offering shelter from predators, feeding grounds and areas for reproduction. They also play a pivotal role in nutrient and carbon cycling and are an indispensable component of marine food webs.

Macroalgal forests do not only produce oxygen, they are also carbon sinks.

Over the past 3 decades, human activities and pressures caused massive losses of algal forests throughout the Mediterranean. Such forests have low ability to naturally recover over time even if local pressures are removed and conservation efforts put in place.

How did AFRIMED restore macro-algal forests?

The AFRIMED brought together a multidisciplinary team to implement novel restoration actions for the Mediterranean macro-algal forests. It combined spatial analyses, laboratory and field studies as well as awareness-raising activities.

Different AFRIMED partners and collaborators led restoration actions throughout the Mediterranean basin and monitored the progress regularly. They identified focal species, main pressures and restoration benefits in sites in Italy, Spain, Tunisia, Morocco, Greece and France.

Cystoseira macroalgal site before restoration intervention @Afrimed
Cystoseira macroalgal site before restoration intervention
Cystoseira macroalgal site after restoration intervention @Afrimed
Cystoseira macroalgal site after restoration intervention

They tested the possibility of using natural and artificial substrates to foster in situ restoration for example along the Conero Riviera (Italy), in Cap Ferrat Natura 2000 site (France), Tibouda (Morocco), to mention some. Through various field and laboratory tests, AFRIMED analysed Cystoseira s.l.’s sensitivity, resilience and potential for adaptation to climate change scenarios, paving the way for improved, replicable, conservation and restoration strategies.

The project created useful knowledge to support of policymaking and developed a protocol for algal forests restoration with maximisation of conservation, societal and economic benefits.

As the project coordinator, Mr Roberto Danovaro from the Polytechnic University of Marche (Italy), says:

AFRIMED represents an unprecedented challenge to scale up the restoration of Cystoseira forests at a Mediterranean basin scale, also overcoming the differences in the marine environmental protection actions between EU and non-EU countries”.

Dive into their activities through this video featuring AFRIMED and MERCES projects and see how they turn EU policy objectives into tangible actions.

Explore AFRIMED’s inspiring field experiences from 19 restoration sites and join the AFRIMED Business Club to have preferential access to results, network with crucial stakeholders and explore new business opportunities in marine restoration.  

More information

Website: AFRIMED 

Social media: afrimed _eu (Facebook) @AFRIMED_eu (X)

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Publication date
4 December 2023
Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries