Oyster reefs benefit humans and the environment through a suite of ecosystem services. A single oyster can filter up to 240 liters of water a day, resulting in increased water quality and clarity while supporting a unique and highly diverse community of fish and invertebrate marine species. In Europe, native oysters once formed extensive beds and reefs in the North Sea, English Channel, and coastal areas from Ireland, areas of Scandinavia and the Baltic, and through the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. However, over 90% of former oyster reefs have been lost1.
In celebration of World Endangered Species Day and International Day for Biological Diversity, Mary Kay Inc., a global leader in corporate sustainability, announced its expanded partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and European partners to support native oyster restoration projects in the UK and continental Europe.
TNC helped to launch the Native Oyster Restoration Alliance (NORA), a European network made up of governmental agencies, scientists, NGOs, oyster growers, and private enterprises. Established in Berlin in 2017, the network plays a vital role in European marine conservation by re-establishing oyster reefs in the North Sea and beyond. The teams are collaborating on the restoration of the native European flat oyster habitat so it once again supports the biodiversity that relies on it and improved water quality. The Nature Conservancy has over twenty years of experience in oyster reef restoration. The organization aims to provide direct technical support to native oyster reef restoration projects throughout Europe.
“Natural recovery has proven to be very challenging and has been significantly impaired because of destructive fishing practices that have removed the shell foundation of the reefs, making it unsuitable for the settlement of oyster larvae,” said Carolyn Passey, General Manager of Mary Kay United Kingdom and Ireland. “This has also been compounded by the introduction of diseases and predators. We are very grateful for the work that The Nature Conservancy is doing in conjunction with NORA in mitigating the damage and helping to recover some of the habitats of this very useful and beautiful creature – the European oyster.”
Oyster restoration in Europe has been progressing in Germany, The Netherlands, and Great Britain and is expanding rapidly in the areas where the native European oyster was historically widespread. Over the past century, the habitat has collapsed, and in most areas live specimens are rarely found. This project is developing methods for the long-term restoration of oyster stocks and working to overcome obstacles to oyster reef restoration in the region.
“Oyster reefs are vital to the health of the surrounding ecosystem as they provide significant structural and ecological benefits to Europe’s marine environment; helping to stabilize sediments and improve water quality by filtering impurities and cycling nutrients. They provide vital food and habitat for coastal wildlife, including critical species of fish,” said Elke Kopp, General Manager of Mary Kay Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. “We are very excited to partner with The Nature Conservancy to tackle the loss of wild native oysters (Ostrea edulis). Their teams have been working hard to promote the reintroduction of the species to restore critical marine biodiversity and improve water quality across Europe.”
“Oyster reefs are some of the best investments we can make in conserving natural systems,” said Dr. Elizabeth McLeod, who leads reef conservation for TNC’s Global Reef Program. “Healthy oyster populations ensure cleaner water and help shield coastal areas and the people who live there from the impacts of climate change. With support from funders like Mary Kay, TNC can restore and protect these important systems for the long term.”
Mary Kay’s partnership with TNC and the NORA network will support projects that protect biodiversity and marine resources across Europe. Examples include:
“Mary Kay is proud to support The Nature Conservancy’s work to help reintroduce the native European oyster to restore critical marine biodiversity,” said Deborah Gibbins, Mary Kay’s Chief Operating Officer. “The Nature Conservancy’s vast experience in oyster reef restoration on four continents gives us confidence in their efforts to revitalize these rare and critically endangered habitats in European marine waters. At Mary Kay, we are focused on leaving the planet better than we found it. That includes protecting creatures large and small.”
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters, and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably, and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.
One of the original glass ceiling breakers, Mary Kay Ash founded her dream beauty company in 1963 with one goal: enriching women’s lives. That dream has blossomed into a multibillion-dollar company with millions of independent sales force members in nearly 40 countries. As an entrepreneurship development company, Mary Kay is committed to empowering women on their journey through education, mentorship, advocacy, networking, and innovation. Mary Kay is dedicated to investing in the science behind beauty and manufacturing cutting-edge skincare, color cosmetics, nutritional supplements, and fragrances. Mary Kay believes in enriching lives today for a sustainable tomorrow, partnering with organizations from around the world focusing on promoting business excellence, supporting cancer research, advancing gender equality, protecting survivors of domestic abuse, beautifying our communities, and encouraging children to follow their dreams. Learn more at marykayglobal.com, find us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, or follow us on Twitter.
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