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The restoration of oyster reefs has been held up as a natural solution to the threat of storm surges on Hong Kong’s coastal communities. Photo: Jonathan Wong

Oysters served up as natural defence for Hong Kong against flooding

Project hails the shellfish reefs as nature’s solution to coastline impact of climate change Conservationists say the oysters act as a barrier to slow storm surges and protect communities from rising sea levels

As the tide rolls out in Deep Bay, neat rows of grey, clustered oysters are revealed, stretching a kilometre across the mudflats along the coast of Pak Nai in the New Territories.

Environmentalists believe the bunches of shellfish could play a key role in protecting Hong Kong’s coastlines from the effects of climate change, including the rise in sea levels and increasingly damaging flooding brought by extreme storms.

“We think the oyster reefs are one of the solutions to climate change,” said Joe Cheung Ho-yi, conservation education manager of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), an international non-governmental organisation that is working in Hong Kong.

The reefs, which can rise up to three metres, can act as a first barrier to slow storm surges and minimise damage to coastal communities, she said.

Joe Cheung Ho-yi, conservation education manager at The Nature Conservancy, pictured in Pak Nai, says oyster reefs are key to minimising the impact of storms in Hong Kong. Photo: Jonathan Wong

Joe Cheung Ho-yi, conservation education manager at The Nature Conservancy, pictured in Pak Nai, says oyster reefs are key to minimising the impact of storms in Hong Kong. Photo: Jonathan Wong

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