Oyster reefs are making a comeback–by protecting coasts from the ravages of climate change

CNBC: They are salty, sumptuous and often served opulently on ice. They are also now on the front lines in the fight to protect coastal real estate from climate change. Oysters — more precisely, oyster reefs.

Oyster reefs are hard, natural barriers that protect shorelines from erosion, rising tides and increasingly severe storm surge. They knock down the height and force of waves, but they’ve been decimated by a century of overharvesting and worsening water quality. Now, they are being restored and repopulated by multiple projects using millions of dollars of public and private funding.

“We’ve seen a loss of almost 80% of oysters in estuaries worldwide,” said Antonio Rodriguez, a University of North Carolina professor of marine sciences who studies oyster reef growth.

He says the best way to protect the billions of dollars’ worth of coastal real estate from increasingly severe storm surge and rising sea levels is to go back to nature.

“The goal is to keep people safe, keep their property intact,” he said. “And sometimes making your environment more natural, and learning from the way the environment was before we developed it, those are the best techniques.” Read more>>