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They are extraordinary biodiversity hotspots. They absorb large amounts of CO2 and release oxygen. They fix nitrogen and detoxify the water. They are nurseries for fish and hundreds of marine organisms. But they are disappearing globally and one-third of the Earth’s coastline is affected.
In Norway, over 80% of the original kelp forest is gone and has been replaced by urchin barrens. Overfishing of sea urchin predators such as large fish is considered a likely driver for the population explosion of green sea urchins and the subsequent overgrazing of kelp forests since the early 1970s.
Restoring kelp forests is possible. In this fight to rewild the ocean, citizen science is a powerful tool in terms of conservation but also to engage the public and raise awareness about the importance of these forests for a healthy planet.