On April 17th, 2024, SERE co-hosted the first of a series of webinars in collaboration with CLIMAREST, a Horizon EU project under the EU Mission: Restore Our Ocean and Waters. CLIMAREST’s objective is to establish robust protocols for marine ecosystem restoration, drawing insights from five demonstration sites spanning from Svalbard in the High Arctic to Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean. The webinar was broadcast live from the third in-person CLIMAREST consortium meeting held at the Ifremer Research Institute in Brest, France.

The webinar delved into the vital topic of Marine Ecological Restoration (MER) standards, shedding light on associated challenges and opportunities. Attendees, both in-person and online, had the chance to engage with speakers through questions and live discussions.

Jordi Cortina-Segarra, Chair of SER Europe’s Executive Board, kicked off the event with an introduction. He examined the applicability of the eight SER Principles of Ecological Restoration to marine environments, questioning whether adaptation is necessary.

Jordi advocated, “Adoption of standards and certification schemes for the practice of (marine) ecological restoration is essential to address environmental challenges and ensure the quality of actions across multiple scales.”

Following this, Cristina Gambi, adjunct Professor at the Polytechnic University of Marche, shared insights into best practices for MER protocols, highlighting challenges such as data scarcity, the limited scale of initiatives and short project durations due to funding constraints. Simonetta Fraschetti, Professor of Ecology at the University of Naples Frederico II, then emphasised the importance of the Nature Restoration Law, stressing that while MER shows promise in both shallow and deep seas, a strong legal framework and a more holistic, ecosystem-based approach is needed.

The leading expert panel of the first SER Europe and CLIMAREST webinar.

The webinar’s centrepiece was a round-table discussion featuring an expert panel comprising Cristina Gambi, Simonetta Fraschetti, Ida Beathe Øverjordet (Project Coordinator of CLIMAREST), Martin Perrot (COO of SEABOOST), Marc Bouchoucha (Marine Ecologist at Ifremer) and Jose Moutinho (Coordinator of Blue Mission AA). These leading experts, alongside webinar host Sahar Stevenson-Jones from SINTEF Ocean, deliberated on the challenges and opportunities associated with Marine Ecological Standards.

Ida Beathe Øverjordet, CLIMAREST’s Project Coordinator, expresses her support for events like this one. “In CLIMAREST we will provide restoration protocols based on the SER Principals of Restoration through our online toolbox, where these can be tailored to specific habitats and regions based on the users’ input. Communication activities like this webinar as well as our toolbox will contribute directly to reaching the targets of the EU Missions and the UN Ocean Decade”, she remarked.

The webinar offered valuable insights for seasoned restoration professionals and marine conservation enthusiasts alike.

For those unable to attend or wishing to revisit the event, the recording is now available in the SER Webinar Library.