Louisiana is also using the mollusks to prevent the erosion of coastal wetlands.
Sandra Stoiber / EyeEm/Getty Images
- Flooding caused by rising sea levels has increased by 247% in some areas of New York since 2000.
- The nonprofit Billion Oyster Project aims to restore oyster reefs in New York’s five boroughs.
- They create a surprisingly effective flood defense, helping to build coastal resilience.
New York has been experiencing record flooding in recent years as a result of climate change.
Data shows that, since 2000, flooding caused by rising waters has increased by 247% in some areas of New York. Sea levels around the Battery area of New York, for example, have risen by almost nine inches since 1950.
However, in New York, a secret weapon has emerged in the fight against rising sea levels — oysters.
The World Economic Forum explained how these mollusks can make a surprisingly effective natural flood defense.
Behind the idea is the Billion Oyster Project, which has restored oysters on reefs in 15 locations in the five boroughs of the city.
11.2 million oysters have been added over the past 6 months to a section of the Hudson River off the coast of Lower Manhattan, where they’re helping to filter water and create habitats for other marine species, The New York Times reported.
Mollusks can soften the impact of large waves, reduce flooding, and prevent coastal erosion.
These abilities are supported by research published in Ecological Engineering, which explained that eco-engineered reefs provide a useful tool to help build coastal resilience in the face of climate change and rising sea levels.
The Billion Oyster project plans to restore 100 million oysters in New York Harbor over the next five years. In addition to mitigating flooding, water quality will be greatly improved and wildlife will re-emerge.
New York isn’t the only place in the US using oysters to tackle rising sea levels. The BBC reported that Louisiana is also using the mollusks to prevent the erosion of coastal wetlands.
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