Great Yorkshire Kelp Forest Project

© Heather Davison-Smith
Mapping, monitoring and defining Yorkshire’s vital kelp ecosystem

Kelp forests are one of the most biodiverse and ecologically important habitats on earth.  Kelp is known as an ‘ecosystem builder’ because it provides shelter and food for other species, it captures and absorbs nutrients, and it plays a vital role in coastal processes.

Across the English North Sea, one recent study estimated that kelp forests accumulate 1300t of organic carbon per year – helping us to keep our atmosphere clean.

Watch ‘The Beauty of Blue Carbon’ animation

What will the project do?

Kelp exists across much of North Yorkshire and a small area of East Yorkshire, where it thrives in shallow waters on the rocky shore, absorbing nutrients from the sunlight. However there are no accurate maps of distribution, extent or the condition of our kelp habitats.  We need to know more about where the kelp is, the quality and composition of the kelp species, and how we can help it thrive in the future.

We can use this data to understand how important kelp habitats are to help us combat climate change and our ambitions for nature recovery.

© Heather Davison-Smith

How will we collect this data?

Working with the University of Hull and other partners, we will:

  • Use remote sensing data to measure the extent and distribution of kelp (including satellite, aerial imagery and bathymetric data);
  • Conduct transect dives and shoreline surveys to assess species distribution, quality and quantity;
  • Create a visual representation of the extent of Yorkshire’s kelp forest through an online map;
  • Generate estimations for how much the kelp habitats contribute to carbon sequestration processes;
  • Identify potential areas that require enhancement or management support.
© Paula Lightfoot
Watch this space for more project updates!

With thanks to our project funders


and our project partners