On Saturday 3 September, the Kelp Forests off Plymouth will be dedicated to Her Majesty as part of The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) in a special ceremony to highlight the importance of kelp as an environmental treasure which fringes much of the UK’s coastline.

Kelp forests are some of the most diverse and productive ecosystems on earth. In the UK, kelp forests cover an area similar in size to the nation’s woodlands – estimated to be 3.2 million hectares or 13.2% of the UK’s land surface. Just like forests on land, kelp plays a crucial role in the regulation of our atmosphere by absorbing carbon dioxide.

Led by Lewis Pugh, QGC Ambassador and UN Patron of the Oceans, a wild swimming relay will take place in the waters surrounding Plymouth Sound – the UK’s first National Marine Park – ahead of an unveiling ceremony overlooking the spectacular seafront.

Home to the Royal Navy, Sailors and Royal Marines from HMNB Devonport will start the relay by delivering a plaque to Lewis and a group of wild swimmers who will swim it to shore. The plaque will be passed to children who will swim the length of the Tinside Lido to deliver it to the Naval Base Commander, who will then present it to Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant, to finally be unveiled by the Mayor of Plymouth.

Members of the Plymouth community are invited to gather around the harbour to help celebrate this unique marine dedication as part of The Queen’s Green Canopy and to cheer on the wild swimming relay. Open water or wild swimming is a popular activity in Plymouth Sound, with over 30,000 members in the Devon and Cornwall Wild Swimming club.

Lewis Pugh, QGC Ambassador and UN Patron of the Oceans, said:

“We are thrilled to dedicate The Kelp Forests off Plymouth to Her Majesty in honour of her Platinum Jubilee. Kelp is a hidden wonder – it’s magic is largely unseen. Kelp Forests are extremely important ecosystems which are vital to the health of our oceans. It is wonderful to see Plymouth’s environmental treasures recognised as part of The Queen’s Green Canopy.”

Professor Pippa Moore, Marine Ecologist at Newcastle University, said:

“The UK’s kelp forests cover an area of approximately two million hectares, supporting high levels of diversity with single kelp plants providing a home for over 50 species and 50,000 organisms. Providing habitat and food for a wide range of crabs, lobsters, fish and marine mammals, kelp also plays an important role in protecting our coasts from storms, cycling nutrients and acting as blue carbon donors. Indeed, it is estimated that kelp forests provide millions of pounds worth of goods and services to the UK economy. It is therefore vital we protect and conserve these amazing habitats.”

Elaine Hayes, CEO of Plymouth Sound National Marine Park, said:

“It’s such an honour to have the marine component of The Queen’s Green Canopy in Plymouth Sound National Marine Park. Here in Britain’s Ocean City we are dedicated to celebrating our amazing waterscape and to help locals and visitors alike, get in, on or under the water. The dedication of our kelp forests in this Platinum Jubilee year will help raise the profile of this iconic species that surrounds our islands and its importance to a wider public who rarely get to see kelp forests.”

Lewis Pugh Kelp Forest 2