Oysters provide key ecosystem services including improving water quality by increasing water clarity, removing excessive nutrients and locking up carbon to tackle climate change. Healthy oyster beds are hugely productive, with a rich biodiversity of associated species, and have a positive effect on the health of the entire ecosystem.
This project will create rehabilitation hubs across the UK to secure national ecosystem recovery of native oysters and the services they provide. We will engage enthuse and mobilise coastal community groups, schools and businesses to deliver this project and create demonstration sites and ‘how to’ materials enabling groups to create similar projects in their own locations across the country.
With more than £1million raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and awarded as part of the Dream Fund, the money will help the Wild Oysters Project to recover the native oyster population, which will lead to cleaner water, healthier fisheries and plentiful marine biodiversity across the nation.
To recover our native oyster, we need to get more oysters into the coastal system in Oyster Nurseries. These are formed by repairing parts of the seabed, with places for shells fish and seaweeds to be able to thrive.
The Tyne and Wear coastal water body will join the River Conwy in Wales and the Firth of Clyde in Scotland in being the locations for new oyster nurseries. Alison Debney, ZSL Senior Conservation Programme Manager, said: “Our dream is to grow a self-sustaining population of native oysters in the UK.
“This funding awarded by Postcode Dream Trust means we now have the potential to release nine billion native oyster larvae into the ocean creating oyster nurseries in UK waters, work with local communities to care for our oceans superheroes and connect people and wildlife.
“Thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery we hope to see healthy, resilient, coastal waters and make a remarkable difference to the future of wild oysters.”
It’s hoped that the new oyster nurseries will inspire the next generation to protect and enhance Britain’s marine environment, with the project expected to engage thousands of volunteers from schools, workplaces and other organisations to get involved in the importance of increasing the oyster population.
Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, added: “Oysters are little carbon capturers as they purify the water in which they grow, removing and storing nitrogen and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery we hope to see healthy, resilient, coastal waters and make a remarkable difference to the future of wild oysters.”