Published on: 05/02/20
The Native Oyster Restoration Alliance (NORA) and the Berlin Oyster Recommendation: bringing back a key ecosystem engineer by developing and supporting best practice in Europe
Efforts to restore the native oyster Ostrea edulis and its associated habitats are gaining momentum across Europe. Several projects are currently running or being planned. To maximize the success of these, it is crucial to draw on existing knowledge and experience in order to design, plan and implement restoration activities in a sustainable and constructive approach. For the development of best practice recommendations and to promote multidimensional knowledge and technology exchange, the Native Oyster Restoration Alliance (NORA) was formed by partners from science, technology, nature conservation, consultancies, commercial producers and policy-makers. The NORA network will enhance scientific and practical progress in flat oyster restoration, such as in project planning and permitting, seed oyster production, disease management and monitoring. It also focuses on joint funding opportunities and the potential development of national and international regulatory frameworks. The main motivation behind NORA is to facilitate the restoration of native oyster habitat within its historic biogeographic range in the North Sea and other European seas along with the associated ecosystem services; services such as enhancing biodiversity, including enhanced fish stocks, nutrient cycling and sediment stabilization. NORA members agreed on a set of joint recommendations and strongly advise that any restoration measure should respect and apply these recommendations: The Berlin Oyster Recommendation is presented here. It will help guide the development of the field by developing and applying best practice accordingly. NORA also aims to combine the outreach activities of local projects for improved community support and awareness and to provide educational material to increase knowledge of the key ecological role of this species and increase awareness among regulators, permit providers and stakeholders. A synthesis of O. edulis restoration efforts in Europe is provided and underlines the general significance in the field.