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TNC and SER partner to develop restoration guidelines for shellfish reefs

Thursday, December 5, 2019  
Posted by: Alexis Gibson
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Shellfish reefs are globally one of the most threatened marine ecosystems. These reefs provide critical functions in water filtrations, coastal shore protection, and habitat for shell and finfish. There is a growing movement to protect and restore these valuable systems, leading to the need to develop current international guidelines for their restoration.

The Nature Conservancy and SER partnered to develop Restoration Guidelines for Shellfish Reefs (Fitzsimmons et al. 2019; “the Guide”). This document is targeted at a broad audience, including practitioners, managers, and community members engaged in community-based restoration; it offers guidance on where and how to engage in restoration projects and case studies from multiple locations. Importantly, the Guide is in alignment with SER’s 2019 International Principles and Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration(Gann et al. 2019).

Examples of case studies include Windarra Reef in South Australia, where co-funding was leveraged to restore 20 hectares of shellfish reefs, driven by a business case on the economic and social benefits of restoring oyster reefs. A project in Hong Kong showcases how practitioners were able to plan a project in an area with threatened species. In addition to oyster reef restorations, the Guide also discusses restoring mussel and other species of shellfish reefs.

In summary, the Guide provides direction on:

  • Understanding the ecosystem you are working in and the species you are working with.
  • Effectively communicating with project stakeholders across the project, from project development to outcomes.
  • Developing a restoration plan, including identifying reference ecosystems, project feasibility, pilot studies, and funding sources.
  • Project management and implementation considerations such as project management systems, technical approaches, and working with community volunteers and contractors.
  • Undertaking monitoring, evaluation and reporting, including measuring progress against predefined restoration targets and reference ecosystems and models.

The web version of the Guide is available to download here.