Restoration Works

Oyster Reefs

The Conservancy's massive oyster restoration effort in the Gulf will benefit marine habitat and wildlife, and coastal communities.

We're talking about coastal habitat restoration and how these projects are changing the lives of people, improving economies, and repairing critical marine ecosystems. Celebrate how Restoration Works by learning more about these vital restoration projects and help us continue to protect and restore nature!

Oysters for People and Nature  

Oysters are a delicacy, often enjoyed with lemon and hot sauce. But this hard working shellfish has tremendous value beyond the plate. 

Oyster reefs are ecosystem engineers of our bays and estuaries, providing essential services to people and nature, such as

  • Water filtration,
  • Acting as natural barrier to storms, and
  • Habitat for fish and other marine life. 

But shellfish reefs worldwide have declined at an alarming rate. A recent Conservancy-led study found 85 percent of oyster reefs globally have been lost due to overharvesting, pollution, and habitat loss. Remaining oysters are unable to fulfill their historic ecological and economic roles in most bays and tributaries leaving protection and restoration of healthy oyster reefs as urgent conservation priorities.  

Restoration in Action

The Nature Conservancy is working with many partners, including NOAA, to protect and restore shellfish populations around the United States, from oyster reefs along Alabama’s Gulf Coast to clams in the Great South Bay of New York. 

And in April of 2013, as part of our long term commitment to the Gulf of Mexico environment and communities, the Conservancy, partners and 586 volunteers helped restore shellfish habitat in Alabama by building a 224-foot living shoreline.  

Working side-by-side, volunteers moved nearly 10,000 concrete blocks that would form the foundation of the reefs. The reefs will help protect 329 feet of natural shoreline, helping to minimize erosion, protect coastal dunes and enhance natural habitat for fish, birds and other marine life. 

Restoration – as well as ensuring shellfish reefs are managed as critical components of coastal ecosystems – will save this important marine habitat for people and nature.

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