To Restore The Forgotten Forests In Our Ocean

Our Story

We all think about deforestation and the devastating disappearance of forests on land, from the burning of the Amazon and California, to wildfires in southern Europe and Siberia. But something similar is happening under the ocean completely out of view, destroying marine vegetation and our ‘forgotten forests’.

Many seaweed forests have simply completely disappeared, destroyed by pollution, ocean heatwaves and other factors. They used to cover most coastlines in temperate climates. Now, from Antarctica to Australia, Canada and Norway, they are under threat as our planet catapults towards increasingly rapid environmental degradation.

Yet, restoring those forests could be a crucial step to mitigating climate change and limiting the loss of biodiversity in the ocean.

There are already dozens of such efforts under way across the globe – in Australia, Portugal, Korea, California and elsewhere – but much more needs to be done.

Far too little attention is paid to seaweed, yet these plants can reverse acidification in our oceans, build up depleted fish stocks and capture carbon at least five times more efficiently than tropical forests. At the same time the total area along our coasts, in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres where the sea is sufficiently shallow to allow sunlight to penetrate and sustain marine vegetation, is roughly the same as all of the world’s tropical forests combined, about the size of Europe or the United States.

Unlike plants and trees on land, planting seaweed needs no fertilizer or soil. Seaweed species, such as kelp, are among the world’s fastest growing plants, delivering rapid rates of photosynthesis. They can grow many meters in just a few months. In theory, spores can be sprayed under water and there will be a seaweed forest within a year. When it is grown it can sustain about 100 grams of fish per square meter of forest because of the nutrients it contains and the habitat it creates, according to scientific studies. If we take an area of 5,000 square kilometers, which represents just 0.03 percent of our global target coastal zone with shallow water, kelp forests can support 500,000 tons of fish.

All other benefits follow from there, including the ability of seaweed forests to reduce coastal erosion, a service that could become increasingly crucial if we don’t stop rising sea levels soon.

Growing seaweed forests, or restoring ones that have disappeared, is a viable method of helping nature help itself to mitigate climate change.

A crucial task to restore our seaweed forests is data. We do not yet have a complete survey of the world’s seaweed and kelp forests, nor exact information on how much of them and how fast they have disappeared. This is key to know how and where to act with most urgency. With new technologies for monitoring the earth’s surface this should not be impossible. What we do know is that industrial and agricultural waste discharged on our coasts has helped destroy seaweed forests in many coastal regions. Warming seas, sudden extreme water temperature changes and overfishing have also played big parts.

With greater scientific knowledge some of this may be mitigated. There are thousands of seaweed species in the world and they grow in different water temperatures. Different approaches can be used, from seeding on stones and artificial structures, to restore seaweed forests and the huge ecological benefits they bring.

Our ocean accounts for nearly two thirds of the world’s carbon sinks and seaweed forests, along with sea grass and mangroves, are all key ecosystems in that process. They all need urgent attention.


Four teams servicing seaforesters world wide


Initiate and participate in projects Research and Development



Fund projects globally Novel financing mechanisms



Collect, monitor and process data Shared knowledge hub



Communicator and educator Events and networking

Here is our team

Pål Bakken


Pål founded SeaForester in 2017, after concluding that something fundamental needed to be done to save the ocean from environmental degradation following a long career as a seafood and seaweed entrepreneur.

Axel Bugge


Axel joined SeaForester in 2019 as co-founder, focusing on communication of the initiative, after a long career as a foreign correspondent for the Reuters news agency.

Mathias Kutzner


Mathias Kutzner is a Tech-Entrepreneur, Mentor and Angel Investor. For the past 20+ years he founded and co-founded several digital startups ...

Inês Louro


Inês, a marine biologist, is scientific coordinator at SeaForester, having worked full-time on the initiative since 2018.

Jan Verbeek


Jan was employed by the Seaforest Cascais project in 2019, where he is leading the development and testing of methods for cultivation and restoration of kelp and other seaweed forests along the municipality’s coastline.


Isabel Sousa Pinto

Isabel Sousa Pinto

Isabel Sousa Pinto is the Group Leader of the Coastal Biodiversity Lab at CIIMAR – Interdisciplinary Centre for Marine and Environmental Research. Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Porto. Member of the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP) on the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

Ester Serrão

Ester Serrão

Ester Serrão is full Professor at the University of Algarve and coordinator of a research team at CCMAR (Centro de Ciências do Mar do Algarve) working on Biogeography, Evolution and Conservation of Marine Biodiversity at CCMAR. Her team studies how marine populations persist, disperse and evolve in response to habitat and climatic changes. She has developed several initiatives for conservation of biodiversity including in the USA the Pew Marine Fellow award for Marine Conservation and several national and international research projects. She has trained and provided first research opportunities to many students and young researchers. She has over 200 indexed scientific papers.

Hartvig Christie

Hartvig Christie

Hartvig Christie, Senior scientist at Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA). He has more than 35 years’ experience with ecological studies of benthic coastal ecosystems, mainly kelp forests and other seaweed and seagrass systems. Long time near shore field work experience (included diving) as well as experience with field experiments and experiments in mesocosms and aquaria. Larger projects include; Natural processes as well as effects of pollutions; Methods for and surveys of monitoring; Structure and stability of kelp forest systems vs. sea urchin grazed systems; Biodiversity and food chain studies in kelp forest and sea grass systems; Disappearance and regrowth of kelps; Effects of eutrophication on macroalgae systems; Ecological effects of artificial reefs and other types of habitat restorations; Ecological impact of kelp harvest and kelp cultivation. Experienced in different types of communication of scientific topics: More than 70 papers published in international journals; More than 140 applied scientific reports in Norwegian or English; More than 30 contributions at international conferences; A high number of contributions on national meetings, in newspapers or popular magazines, in radio, and on TV.

Yngvar Olsen

Yngvar Olsen

Yngvar Olsen is full Professor at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) from 1995 with 30 years of experience in the research field of marine ecology and marine aquaculture, including farming and biochemistry of marine macroalgae. He has published >160 papers in international per-reviewed journals and educated 18 PhD students. He was senior scientist in SINTEF Aquaculture (1986-95) and later Director of the Strategic Marine Focus Area at NTNU (2006-13). Beside he has been a member of the Board of Directors/Vice President of World Aquaculture Society (2002-06), a member in the International Advisory Board of GEOMAR (2004-12); ERC panel 9 (2013-present), member of MARINFORSK Board in the Norwegian Research Council (2014-present), participant in SAPEA Working Group on Food from the Oceans (2017). He has been Principal Advisor in FAO-project Offshore Mariculture and a Founder of the European Aquaculture Technology and Innovation Platform (EATiP).

David Carlisle

David Carlisle

David Carlisle is an angle investor and the founder of a market-leading aviation fuel efficiency software and consultancy company, ETS Aviation Ltd. The business was acquired by the Boeing Company in 2014.

Mr. Carlisle is a veteran of the aviation industry with more than 20 years as a senior pilot and senior manager. He was with NetJets in Lisbon for more than eight years during its transition into Europe’s largest business aviation operator.

He believes passionately that ecologically based enterprises and non-profit environmental projects need to become mainstream, in order to speed up the change needed for our planet’s sustainable future. To do this capitalism needs to shift towards growth with an ecological dimension

Francisco Saraiva Gomes

Francisco Saraiva Gomes

Francisco is an executive specialized in the aquaculture industry. Prior to founding Pontos Aqua, Francisco led the Aqua Business Unit for Novus International in becoming a leading global provider of sustainable health and nutrition solutions for the aquaculture supply chain across all major species and markets. Throughout his career, Francisco has accumulated a unique and generalist executive experience in the aquaculture industry. Francisco’s career span trough a wide variety of operational roles, including the shrimp industry in Madagascar, several consulting projects throughout Africa, Latin America and Europe, management and business development for two premier global engineering firms, operational management in clam and oyster production in southern Europe and aquaculture expert for the European Economic and Social Committee. Francisco was also Director of the Board of the World Aquaculture Society. Francisco received his doctoral degree from Auburn University, USA in Aquaculture, his undergraduate degree in Marine Biology from Lisbon University, Portugal, and Executive Education in Leadership & Management in Harvard Business School.


Seaforest Portugal

Testing efficient methods for the recovery of kelp populations

Seaforest Cascais

Assessing the potential for seaforestation in Cascais

Green Gravel

Restoring blue forests with green gravel: a novel solution to ‘future-proof’ kelp forests

Blue Front Yard

Valuing seaweed forests and developing guidelines for municipal seaforestation projects

Restoring Saccorhiza polyschides kelp forests in Cascais

A community project to restore the lost seaweed forests of Cascais and empower the local community

Kelp Forest Restoration in Norway

Strategy document on kelp restoration in Norway with focus on sea urchin removal

Other Relevant Projects

Cultivating Resilient Marine Forests

Te Kupenga Mahi
University of Otago

Operation Crayweed, Australia

Operation Crayweed

Giant kelp restoration in Baja California, Mexico

Blue Forest

Orange County Kelp Forest Ecosystem Restoration Project

Get Inspired

Restoring Tasmania’s disappearing giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) forests

Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania

What We Do

SeaForester aims to reverse the alarming disappearance of seaweed forests in the world in order to safeguard the oceans’ vital role of carbon sequestration, maintaining fish stocks and securing the planet’s wellbeing.

To do that, SeaForester initiates, manages and encourages seaweed reforestation projects worldwide. Devastating environmental loss of seaweed is unfolding without any significant public awareness. To address that void, SeaForester aims to communicate and educate the public, as well as the scientific, political and business communities, of the far-reaching benefits of seaweed.

Its mission is simply to restore the forgotten forests in our ocean.

SeaForester is also taking the first steps to collect, monitor and process data on seaweed globally in order to ensure efficient information-sharing and the rapid adoption and launch of seaforestation around the world.

Local coastal communities on all continents are our targets.

Green Gravel

Green Gravel is one of the most promising techniques for kelp forest restoration in the world, holding out the possibility of the adoption of projects on much larger scales. After careful consideration and our involvement in a Green Gravel project in Australia, SeaForester has decided to back this approach as its main tool for seaweed restoration and is involved in promoting it through a global group of scientists and projects (www.greengravel.org).

The method, which has been tested in a number of places including Norway, Australia, California and by us in Portugal, involves seeding small rocks with kelp spores in the laboratory and then planting them in the ocean.

When the young kelps on the rocks are dropped into the ocean from a boat, they attach to the underlying reef on the seafloor. This technique is cheap, simple, and does not require scuba diving, highly trained field workers, or engineered structures. The ease of scattering the gravel from a boat means the process can be scaled up to treat large areas.

Green gravel also represents an exciting avenue to ‘future proof’ restoration efforts. By seeding gravel with resilient species or assemblages, we may be able to enhance the resilience of kelp forests to future disturbance or climate change.