Personal care ingredient maker IFF is partnering with environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) Bellona to restore seaweed forests in northern Norway.
The Norwegian Marine Restoration (NoMaRe) project aims to restore 5,000 square kilometres of seaweed forest by managing invasive sea urchin predation.
The regrowth of the forests could increase biological carbon sequestration by 12 million tons – the equivalent of Norway’s total oil and gas industry emissions in 2021.
Norwegian seaweed forests are the main food sources and home to over 300 species of invasive sea urchins.
During the 1970s, human activity disrupted and removed many of the urchin larvae’s natural predators, allowing urchins to increase in high numbers and convert the northern Norway seaweed forests into desert-like ‘urchin barrens’.
This has caused ecological ripple effects on the biomass of native animals and plants, including limiting opportunities for seaweed harvesting.
IFF is providing financial support and its expertise in seaweed management to the NoMaRe project over a three-year period.
In collaboration with the Norwegian government, scientific and research communities, the project will help to fund the creation of a dedicated platform to promote effective, scientifically proven urchin removal schemes and supplementary restoration efforts.
"The project has the potential to help Norway grow its marine economy by generating significant economic benefits every year, making sustainable seaweed one of the country’s biggest contributors to marine industries. That’s good for a greener economy and a greener planet," said Trond Helgerud, principal scientist and seaweed R&D leader, Nourish, IFF.