IFF (NYSE: IFF), a global leader in food and beverage, home and personal care and health, today announced its partnership with environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) Bellona in a long-term project to restore seaweed forests in northern Norway. The collaboration on the Norwegian Marine Restoration (NoMaRe) project aims to restore 5,000 square kilometers 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. The launch event held in Norway was attended by Andreas Bjelland Eriksen, Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment, as well as senior members of the research community.
“As one of the largest global users of seaweed for alginates and carrageenan, we are proud to be an initiator of this major project,” said Renee Henze, chief sustainability officer, IFF. “Alginate from Norwegian seaweed is used in pharmaceutical applications, dietary supplements, and food, including new plant-based meat alternatives. Increasing advocacy for the often-forgotten seaweed forest is key to mitigating the effects of climate change, while creating sustainable jobs and products globally.”
Seaweed forests are among the most important natural environments on Earth but are facing challenges on a global scale. 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.
The partnership reflects IFF’s commitment to its Do More Good Plan, the Company’s environmental, social and governance, plus Sustainable Solutions roadmap that activates its purpose of applying science and creativity for a better world. 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. It will raise awareness of the importance of restoring Norway’s marine ecosystem and help meet Norway’s climate change objectives. “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.
“At IFF, we have always been committed to Doing More Good and giving back to the communities we operate in,” said Angela Strzelecki, president, Pharma Solutions, IFF. “In Norway, we have sustainably harvested seaweed for over 60 years, so we know how to maintain the forest. The habitats where we harvest thrive, and we hope the seaweed forest further north can do the same. NoMaRe shows that great things happen when businesses, NGOs, research communities and governments combine their forces, expertise, and experience to help save the planet and create green jobs.”
“The Bellona Foundation is very happy to partner with IFF on the important issue of marine restoration,” said Joakim Hauge, director of bioeconomic, Bellona Foundation. “The team’s experience and knowledge will provide valuable contributions to this exciting partnership. I am confident that IFF and The Bellona Foundation jointly will achieve very real progress for climate and the environment, in restoring marine biodiversity and ecosystems, while at the same time increasing biological carbon storage.”