The Nature Conservancy launched its South Carolina Marine Program in 2005 to help preserve the remarkable marine diversity in the nearshore environment. Currently the Conservancy's efforts are focused on restoring the health of our magnificent oyster reefs and the link between land and water conservation.
The state’s rivers, coastal estuaries, and ocean waters provide means of transportation, recreation, commerce, and nourishment. The waters and their associated habitats are home to a tremendous array of species. Preserving the balance between natural resources and economic success is essential to the state’s future.
Population growth and development, loss in oyster populations, dam-controlled rivers, coastal erosion, and rising sea levels all contribute to the risk facing our coastal environment.
Oysters provide the “coral reefs” of temperate estuarine systems. In tidal habitats, they create living reefs that support more than 130 other species. Reefs also play an important role in minimizing erosion, maintaining water quality, and protecting upland areas during storms.
South Carolina has seen a loss in its oyster populations over the past 100 years, and this corresponds with a worldwide decline of 85 percent. (Read the Conservancy's report Shellfish Reefs at Risk.) Despite this significant global loss, oyster reefs have received much less attention than their tropical coral counterparts.
In South Carolina , The Nature Conservancy is in the midst of a long-term oyster conservation and restoration program. The goal is to increase functional oyster habitats within the Cape Romain ecosystem. Supported in part by the Alcoa Foundation, the project brings together state and federal agencies, fishermen, and local volunteers. Part of the plan promotes recycling oyster shells, the best material for reef building.
Learn more about our oyster reef restoration efforts in South Carolina, our Restaurant Oyster Shell Recycling Program, and related green jobs.
Learn more about The Nature Conservancy's Regional Oyster Reef Restoration Work and to view a Map of Local Projects in the Southeastern United States.
July 18, 2012