European Native Oyster Habitat Monitoring Handbook published

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The Native Oyster Restoration Alliance (NORA) and the Native Oyster Network, with experts from Wetlands International – European Association member the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) have published a handbook on monitoring the restoration of native oyster habitat in Europe.

The European Native Oyster Habitat Restoration Monitoring Handbook is a beginner’s guide to why and how to monitor native oyster habitat restoration, so that the results can be better communicated, and ultimately to ensure that the restoration community is able to contribute to building an evidence base to inform and improve restoration actions, and related policies.

Native oyster reefs are one of the most threatened marine habitats in Europe, with an estimated decline of 95% since the 19th century. Historic overfishing, habitat loss, disease, pollution and invasive non-native species are all contributing factors in the decline.

To achieve the goals of the European Green Deal and address the climate and biodiversity crises, restoring the function and productivity of native oyster reefs is a critical step that can provide multiple benefits to nature and society and must be scaled up as quickly as possible.

According to Boze Hancock of The Nature Conservancy, “This requires monitoring and gathering data that are sufficiently similar to allow comparison. However, no two sites are identical, and local conditions demand constant adaptation. It is both challenging and critical to describe monitoring protocols and metrics that provide the flexibility to accommodate the vastly different conditions faced by restoration projects.”

This manual is intended to build on earlier work and provides valuable guidelines tailored to the European context. It is the third of three related publications on native oyster restoration, the two preceding ones were published in 2020.