China has set up a seagrass monitoring station, which will be part of a global network, in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
The station was co-sponsored by Guangxi Mangrove Research Center (GMRC) and the Seagrass Monitoring Network of the World Seagrass Association (WSA), which provided internationally standardized monitoring equipment.
Seagrass is a shallow saltwater plant that can flower underwater and is found in temperate and tropical ecosystems. There are only 60 species of grass globally.
Seagrass systems are important in providing habitats and food for other marine life and for keeping the water clean.
Seagrass beds also stabilize sediment, and hamper waves and currents. Binding sediments protects coral reefs, and the dampening of storms can help protect human settlements. It is also thought that seagrasses could help as buffers from the impacts of climate change acidification on coral reefs.
The seagrass is valuable for its sensitivity to environmental changes. It requires a high light environment, meaning it can reflect harmful changes in the oceans.
The Beibu Gulf of Beihai city boasts eight species of seagrass. The United Nations Environment programme (UNEP) built eight seagrass meadows covering about 540 hectares last year in the gulf in a scheme aimed at reversing environmental degradation in the South China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand.
Findings from the station could help better protect seagrasses and their beds.
(Xinhua News Agency August 4, 2008)