NORA Monitoring Group


As restoration of Ostrea edulis habitat in Europe scales up and is adopted in a growing number of sites, it is important that lessons learned from existing projects can be effectively communicated and understood. Given that projects have a limited number of resources and are unable to test all possibilities themselves, it is helpful if work undertaken in one location can be translated to another. In order to facilitate this learning, NORA is proud to support the Monitoring Working Group in drafting pan-European monitoring guidelines.

The work to develop monitoring guidelines was started by the UK-Ireland Native Oyster Network in 2018. In December 2019 the UK-Ireland Network hosted a workshop in Portsmouth University, in collaboration with NORA, to agree on and develop the guidelines further. The workshop was funded by the University of Portsmouth, EU Life Project, John Ellerman.

As a result of this workshop, the Monitoring handbook was published in Nov 2021 as part of the suite of handbooks to aid in native oyster restoration practice, biosecurity and monitoring. The monitoring handbook objective was to collectively agree a suite of monitoring metrics and methods that is implemented by restoration projects to assess the progress, scale, success and failures or restoration efforts and activities. This monitoring handbook was the first step to achieve the 

Berlin Recommendations No. 5 = Create Common monitoring protocols. 

Background: Native oyster restoration is in its infancy in Europe. There are numerous outstanding questions regarding best practice for restoration of the European native oyster. A shared monitoring protocol will allow lessons and outcomes to be shared between all European restoration efforts. This will reduce duplication of effort and ensure that progress towards successful restoration is as rapid as possible. 

Recommendation: Monitoring protocols that will provide comparable results for projects throughout Europe and for restored sites should be developed and followed. Where possible, monitoring should include the assessment of ecosystem services on a habitat and ecosystem scale.

In reality, the implementation of common monitoring protocols is challenging across the highly varied conditions, and context of different restoration projects occurring at very different locations across the biogeographic range of Ostrea edulis. For example, some are deeper water projects in the North Sea, others are intertidal in the Mediterranean. 

However, if we are to compare these projects, collecting comparable data will be a very powerful tool to enabling us to learn, up-scale, refine and communicate to policy makers and funders, the wider impact of native oyster restoration (e.g. by quantifying ecosystem service provision).

Our WG Monitoring strategy lays out how we intend to achieve this as a commuity.

Figure 1: Monitoring allows not only for the basic performance of each reef to be assessed through time, but also assists with lessons learned. Consistently gathering monitoring information allows those data to be bundled to provide a critical evidence base in the long term for developing environmental policies. From the European Native Oyster Habitat Restoration Monitoring Handbook.  

Alongside the monitoring guidelines, the NORA community of experts came together to undertake a Priority Setting Exercise to identify the Forty questions of importance to the policy and practice of native oyster reef restoration in Europe. (zu Ermgassen et al 2020) Restoration of Ostrea edulis habitat is still in at a pilot or experimental phase for most projects.

If you would like to join the Monitoring Working Group, please get in touch with Joanne Preston or Boze Hancock bhancock@TNC.ORG.