FORTY-thousand seagrass seeds are set to be planted next month as part of a major marine restoration project.

More than 4,000 people have been involved in the first full year of the Restoration Forth scheme, which aims to bring back seagrass habitats and native oyster populations to the Firth of Forth, including off the coast of Tyninghame.

Hubs have been set up in North Berwick, Edinburgh and Kinghorn as part of the initiative, which will receive up to £600,000 over three years from ScottishPower Foundation’s Marine Biodiversity Fund.

Restoration Forth is managed by WWF, the leading independent conservation organisation, in partnership with local communities and organisations, including the Scottish Seabird Centre, and seeks to restore seagrass, which provides an important habitat for marine life and is a tool in the fight against climate change.

Oyster reefs – which once flourished in the Forth – remove pollutants and provide sanctuary for a vast array of marine life.

As part of the process, 40,000 seagrass seeds have been prepped for planting, with the project team visiting Orkney and working with the local community to collect the seeds for replanting in the Forth.

Care was taken to ensure that the east coast variant was collected, to avoid non-native species being planted in the Firth of Forth, and the seeds are expected to be planted next month.

Naomi Arnold, Restoration Forth project manager at WWF, described the level of interest and engagement in Restoration Forth over the first 12 months as “inspiring”. She said: “The enthusiasm of our partners and funders but also, crucially, from members of the many communities that line the Forth showcases how a project like this can work for both the marine environment and the people who live by it.

“Restoring the seagrass meadows and oyster beds of the Forth brings a whole host of benefits, from improved water quality and increased biodiversity to storing carbon and reduced coastal erosion.

“After a year of hard work and preparation, we are excited that this spring will see the start of seagrass planting and oyster deployment.”

Over a period of six months, the team also engaged with thousands of people of all ages in communities surrounding the Firth of Forth.

School pupils, university students, researchers, fishing communities and a variety of local groups have learned about the plans.

A large part of the year’s work focused on establishing the best locations in the Firth of Forth for the restoration to take place, to ensure the best opportunities for community engagement and ecological conditions.

The locations for planting need to be suitable for growth and accessible to members of the local community, so they can engage with the project and take the scheme forward in the long term.

Melanie Hill, executive officer and trustee of the ScottishPower Foundation, said: “It’s so exciting to see the progress across the year of our first-ever Marine Biodiversity Fund project.

“Restoration Forth is supported by the biggest-ever grant awarded by the ScottishPower Foundation, and is a shining example of how we can take action now to tackle the climate emergency.

“Thriving marine environments are vital if we’re to have any chance of addressing the biodiversity and climate crises we all face.

“Restoration Forth helps to do this and more, by engaging with the local community to educate them on the importance of these habitats to the wider ecosystem and our future.”

ScottishPower Foundation’s grant was the first funding contribution towards the £2.4 million total cost of the project, which aims to restore up to four hectares of seagrass and 10,000 oysters per year by the end of 2024.