RESTORE Main project & Scientific monitoring
Project duration 2019 – 2025
The results obtained during the preliminary investigation served as the basis for the implementation of the main project and the scientific monitoring. The main project comprises the construction of a pilot oyster reef in the “Borkum Reef ground” marine protected area. This includes the development of a concept for the pilot reef, the construction of the reef, and a comprehensive ecological and technological monitoring.
In the main investigation, further required findings for the creation of a long-term restoration program will be developed. This will help to establish a healthy population of the oyster species Ostrea edulis, a highly endangered species in Europe, and of the oyster reef ecosystem at selected sites in the German North Sea.
The following objectives are in focus:
- Establish a pilot oyster reef in the “Borkum Reef ground” (BRG) marine protected area
- Development of extended test areas in the BRG marine protected area using selected, suitable substrates
- Extensive under water documentation of the established 3D structures
- Evaluation of the reef concept, and identification of suitable technologies
- Development of a work frame for further oyster restoration measures in the German North Sea Exclusive Economic Zone (guideline)
- Pilot tests in the nature reserve “Helgoländer Felssockel”
The construction of the pilot oyster reef was carried out in the summer of 2020. There, a total of 80 tons of limestone and empty oyster shells as reef substrate, as well as about 100,000 juvenile oysters, were deployed as basis for a growing oyster reef. In the following years, the pilot reef will be regularly investigated and expanded, and further technologies for building and documenting the underwater structures will be tested.
In addition to the main project and the development of the pilot reef, a close scientific monitoring is carried out. The aim is to generate records on the oyster’s growth and the development of communities.
Do the oysters show similar growth rates to those in the RESTORE preliminary study?
Are they adapted to the new habitat in the deep North Sea? Do they survive there?
When do the oysters reach sexual maturity?
In addition to the oysters themselves, also the development of the surrounding habitat will be monitored and investigated:
Which organisms settle there? When do they settle?
To what extent and on what scale is a change in biodiversity evident?
How does this change affect the functionality of the ecosystem?
The methods for this monitoring are developed and coordinated with other restoration projects in the European NORA network, and within the framework of European monitoring guidelines.
The aim of the scientific monitoring is to apply these monitoring methods for the North Sea, and to scientifically evaluate the results. This is to understand the development and influence of the evolving oyster reef structure, and in order to draw conclusions for long-term reintroduction measures within the framework of marine nature conservation.
Supported by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) with funds from the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection.