Restoring biodiversity around the Humber Estuary

Planting salt marsh and seagrass, and introducing native oysters to replenish and strengthen the local ecosystem

In an ambitious new project, we’ve partnered with the Lincolnshire and Yorkshire Wildlife Trusts to restore biodiversity around the Humber, a large tidal estuary on the east coast of Northern England.  

The pioneering initiative is a long-term investment to restore seagrass and salt marsh and introduce half a million native oysters to improve the health and resilience of the estuary’s ecosystem.

The project, which launches in August 2022, is part of Ørsted’s broader efforts to make a positive contribution to both climate and nature. It begins with the planting of three hectares of salt marsh and four hectares of seagrass, and the release of half a million native oysters. 

The UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has commended this new pilot project as an example of how restoration of important marine habitats can work in practice and deliver multiple benefits. 

Recent events have demonstrated the importance of developing a home-grown renewable energy supply.

We are committed to developing schemes that work alongside the recovery of natural habitats. Climate change and biodiversity loss are significant challenges, and I welcome the commitment Ørsted are making today.

This project in the Humber Estuary showcases the potential for private sector investment, alongside support from the public sector. I hope that this is a catalyst for further practical projects that protect and enhance our natural environment.

Rebecca Pow Environment Minister, UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs 
Our biodiversity agenda

At Ørsted, we’re proud of our standing as one of the world's most sustainable energy companies,. We’re committed to using this experience to deliver the industry-leading goal of transforming all renewable energy projects into projects that create a net-positive biodiversity impact. 

We’ve already started, and this project around the Humber Estuary is one of the examples of the solutions we’re exploring. Our ambition is that from no later than 2030, all new projects commissioned must have a net-positive biodiversity impact.

Partnering with local NGOs to make tangible progress 

Climate change and biodiversity loss are two interconnected crises that must be addressed together. But we know we don’t have all the answers, and there is no blueprint yet.  

To deliver on our biodiversity ambition and to leave nature in a better state than we found it, collaboration is essential. That's why we’re working with trusted expert partners to find and implement the best solutions.  

In this project with the Lincolnshire and Yorkshire Wildlife Trusts, we’re embarking on restoration that focuses on multiple habitats that are key to the local ecosystem. 

The Humber Estuary’s conservation status was recently downgraded due to pollution and loss of habitat, while 95 % of native oyster reefs have disappeared from the area since the early 1900s.  

The reintroduction of these native species and rewilding will help restore the estuary’s ecosystem and play a vital role in addressing climate change and the interrelated global biodiversity crisis.  

Seagrass planting

Seagrass is one of the unsung heroes of nature-based solutions to climate change, due to its huge capacity for carbon absorption. Similar to the way trees take carbon from the air, seagrass takes carbon from water – and does so at a rate 35 times faster than tropical rainforests. Salt marshes are similarly incredibly efficient at capturing and storing large quantities of carbon. 

Together, seagrass and salt marsh areas also provide nutrient rich habitats for a variety of fish and birds. They can also play an important role in climate adaptation, helping protect coasts against erosion by slowing down waves and tidal flows. These are all critical benefits considering the devastating impact of storms and flooding, which are likely to increase with climate change.  

The release of 500,000 native oysters will promote water purification and nourish further marine habitats by giving the mollusc an opportunity to create a biogenic reef. The habitats created by these three vital species will in turn nourish and protect the native wildlife.

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