Project boosts oyster populations and biodiversity, safeguarding whisky and marine ecosystems
Oysters are making a comeback in Scotland, and it's all thanks to a rewilding project called the Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project (DEEP), which is partly funded by the Glenmorangie distillery. The scheme aims to reintroduce four million native oysters to the Dornoch Firth on Scotland's northeast coast by 2030. The oysters will act as water filters, mitigating the effects of organic waste released into the waters and preventing the quality of the company’s whisky from deteriorating. Researchers say the process could increase biodiversity in the area by 50% by the end of the decade and treble the amount of carbon going into the seabed. The DEEP is a partnership between Heriot-Watt University, the Glenmorangie distillery and the Marine Conservation Society.
In the 1800s, the European native oyster was so plentiful in Scotland that 30 million a year were harvested from oyster beds outside Edinburgh. But today, populations have dropped by 85% over the past century, most likely because of overfishing from bottom trawling. While restorative oyster projects have increased in Europe over the past five years, a lack of data on intact reefs has meant that their impact on biodiversity has not been estimated. The DEEP could provide a “business model for restoration,” according to Professor Bill Sanderson of Heriot-Watt University.
The study conducted by the Heriot-Watt researchers showed how biodiversity increased over time when oysters were left undisturbed. The findings are significant for Deep and for the Dornoch Firth, but more broadly will help to inform the many marine conservation projects around the world. The researchers found that biodiversity indicators were 60% higher in plots that had been left for six years after harvesting. While populations of oysters in the area are so low as to be “functionally extinct,” Sanderson has found oyster shells dating back 8,000 years. The oyster bed in the Firth of Forth, near Edinburgh, was once 20 miles long by six miles wide.
The DEEP is working towards achieving one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - SDG 14, which calls for the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas, and marine resources. This project aligns with the vision of a global society that prioritizes sustainability and protects the environment for future generations. By focusing on this single SDG, the DEEP project aims to have a positive impact on the local ecosystem and marine life.
The DEEP project is a unique initiative that promotes sustainability and the conservation of marine resources in Scotland. By reintroducing native oysters to the Dornoch Firth, this rewilding project could treble the amount of carbon going into the seabed, prevent the quality of whisky from deteriorating, and increase biodiversity in the area by 50% by the end of the decade. The DEEP aligns with the UN's SDG 14, calling for the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas, and marine resources. The DEEP could provide a business model for restoration, according to Professor Bill Sanderson of Heriot-Watt University, and could inform marine conservation projects around the world.
This project is helpful for the vision of the global society because it promotes collaboration, communication, and knowledge-sharing among individuals and organizations from different parts of the world. By working together to address common challenges and create innovative solutions, we can make progress towards a more sustainable and equitable future. Furthermore, the project's focus on education and skill-building empowers individuals to take an active role in shaping their communities and contributing to the global society. Ultimately, this project has the potential to create a ripple effect of positive change, inspiring others to engage in meaningful action and work towards a better world for all.
More information: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/mar/31/oysters-and-whisky-why-the-pairing-could-have-huge-benefits-for-wildlife-in-scotland