Kelp Habitat Banking

Habitat banks are an important tool used by the forestry sector to compensate for environmental impacts. The goal of this project is to develop an innovative type of habitat bank using planted kelp beds that can be used by the forestry sector to reduce the environmental impact of logging on marine habitat. Kelp beds are also highly effective at sequestering carbon, the levels of carbon sequestered in the habitat banks will be measured in order to assess their contribution to mitigating the effects of climate change.

Project Dates: December 2019 – January 3, 2024
Funding Amount: $286,250
Students Hired: 2

MCWA President, Mike Wright and NIC researcher Allie Byrne examine one of the experimental sugar kelp lines.

Project Summary

Kelp naturally provides food and habitat for many different species while improving water quality. Planted kelp beds, therefore, have the potential to create marine habitat and/or rehabilitate degraded marine habitat. This project seeks to fill in knowledge gaps regarding kelp as a habitat banking tool for the forestry sector. The growth and quality of kelp was compared at several marine sites used for log handling/storage. In addition to kelp measurements, water quality was monitored and qualitative observations from underwater photos/video were recorded at each site. The results will help the industry partners, and potentially other companies, make informed decisions about future marine habitat banks by examining what site conditions and kelp cultivation techniques were or were not successful during this project.

Research Team

Allison Byrne
Allison Byrne, Lead Researcher
Allison Byrne (Allie) is a researcher in NIC’s Centre for Applied Research, Technology and Innovation where her focus is applied aquaculture research. Most of her work involves field-based seaweed and shellfish research projects that engage local industry partners and NIC students. Allie has an MSc in Geography from the University of Victoria.
Logan Zeinert
Logan Zeinert, Senior Research Technician
Logan hails from New Zealand, but recently completed his Masters Degree at Memorial University in Newfoundland. Logan has extensive marine surveying and aquaculture research experience and is an accomplished diver.
Sally Enns
Sally Enns, Research Assistant
Sally Enns is a graduate of the NIC Aquaculture Technician program. Read more about her experience with this research.
Sally Enns
Maria Griffith, Research Assistant
Maria Griffith is a student researcher for North Island College and is very passionate about the ocean and better understanding marine life. It is very important to her that the world maintains a healthy relationship with the environment throughout all aspects of life.

Project Outcomes

  • Kelp was planted at four sites. Kelp yield, length, and width were measured, along with water current, temperature, and salinity at the experimental sites. Underwater video footage from dive surveys was collected before kelp planting and on a follow-up trip near peak kelp production.
  • Optimal kelp culture depth, grow-out infrastructure, and sites were identified.
  • NIC, MCWA, and BC Timber Sales are working together on a larger 3-year kelp project that will build on the results of this collaboration and test a novel kelp planting technique.


News Stories and Coverage

Allison Byrne on CBC

NIC News: NIC researching kelp habitat banks for the forestry sector

My Comox Valley Now: NIC part of kelp-planting efforts on Vancouver Island

Campbell River Mirror: North Island College helping research kelp habitat improvements for forestry sector