Beginning with seaforestation in the cold coastal waters off Vancouver Island, Canada, we’re now protecting our unseen forests, leveraging revolutionary technology to launch underwater reforestation initiatives that bring the benefits of tree planting to the oceans.
Planting Kelp to Protect Our Planet
Seaforestation is the act of restoring, planting, managing, and caring for underwater seaweed forests. In collaboration with OceanWise, this new project seeks to protect essential kelp forests, utilizing advanced and innovative methods to plant Bull, Sugar, and Giant Kelp.
By undertaking this exciting five-year project, we will:
- Restore, cultivate and protect at least 5,000 hectares of kelp and the biodiversity it supports
- Sequester large amounts of carbon (5,000 ha would offset the annual CO2 emissions of 3,049 New Yorkers)
- Support the livelihoods of Indigenous and coastal communities and provide adaptations to cope with the impacts of climate change
Kelp is among the largest types of seaweed in the world. It thrives in cold, shallow and nutrient-rich waters close to the shore in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic Oceans. Kelp grows in dense groupings similar to forests on land, producing oxygen, absorbing large amounts of carbon dioxide and filtering excess nutrients from the water.
Kelp is a foundational species and is essential for creating healthy marine ecosystems. Even though we can’t see these floating forests from land, they have a huge influence on marine life, coastal communities and our climate.
- Kelp forests offer a continuous food supply and foster ideal habitats, creating one of the ocean’s most diverse ecosystems. Kelp beds provide a protective shelter for seabirds and marine mammals from predators and harsh weather conditions and create a secure nursery for an array of fish species.
- FUN FACT: Sea otters wrap themselves in kelp to ensure they don’t float away while sleeping.
- Kelp forests are incredibly effective at storing carbon thanks to their rapid growth rate. In the right conditions, they can grow up to 60 centimetres a day and sequester large amounts of carbon equivalent to forests on land. Some of the carbon stored in kelp’s biomass ends up buried in the deep ocean when the kelp dies, helping trap atmospheric carbon.
Kelp forests in California can store up to 20 times more carbon per acre than land forests and grow up to 30 times faster.
- Climate change has caused increasingly intense weather patterns. Research has shown that kelp forests can reduce the effects of storm surges and coastal erosion, protecting coastal communities. Kelp also aids in filtering the water, decreasing pollution and mitigating acidification caused by climate change.
Holds Cultural Significance
- Kelp holds immense cultural significance for Indigenous coastal communities who have relied on it for generations as a primary source of food and medicine. Kelp forests and beds provide vital habitats for a variety of species and have been used for centuries for sustenance, spiritual ceremonies, and healing rituals. For many Indigenous communities, kelp is a source of identity and connection to the land and sea.
Support Local Economies
- Kelp forests are vital habitats for commercially important fish species, like herring, lobsters, kelp bass, and abalones, that sustain First Nations and local economies. Kelp is also a sustainable superfood with immense potential to bring economic profits from harvesting. Kelp has a lot of potential uses that we’re just beginning to learn about, from building insulation livestock feed.
Despite the long list of benefits, we’re losing kelp forests at an accelerated rate. Rising ocean temperatures caused by climate change and ecosystem imbalances have caused sea urchin populations to increase, which feed primarily on kelp. This has led to kelp forests disappearing around the world, with some regions experiencing a complete collapse.
How We’re Planting Kelp
We’re partnering with OceanWise and using Green Gravel technology to help restore these floating forests, starting with a pilot project in Rainy Bay, British Columbia. Not only is Rainy Bay in our own backyard, but it offers the ideal ecological and economic conditions to bring seaforestation to scale.
Green gravel is a simple way to cover big parts of the ocean floor with kelp. First, kelp propagules are seeded onto small rocks in a lab and nurtured until they’re ready to be transplanted to the ocean. Once planted, the young kelp spreads and sticks to the reef, covering the area. This method is cost-effective and easy to do by scattering the gravel from boats.
After assessing the pilot project, we plan to scale and replicate green gravel projects in other locations in British Columbia and Chile, with the goal of restoring 5,000 ha of kelp forests.
The Long-Term Impact
This ambitious and groundbreaking seaforestation mission marks the start of our journey to protect our oceans and, ultimately, the planet. Planting kelp forests can help combat climate change’s impacts. By establishing resilient ecosystems, we can safeguard the valuable habitats and resources these forests supply for both the land and the sea.
By planting trees for every item you purchase, it’s our mission to plant 1 billion trees by 2030. Head to our website to learn more and begin your planting journey with 10% off.