Artificial Oyster Reefs – Benefits to Southwest Florida

Photo credit: https://www.flseagrant.org/florida-living-shorelines/

Artificial Oyster Reefs – Benefits to Southwest Florida

Early 20th Century writer Willa Cather once said, “Either a building is part of a place or it is not. Once that kinship is there, time will only make it stronger.”

As urban planners, landscape architects and engineers, we try and look at projects as holistically as possible. For us, this often means reviewing the economic impact of our projects or evaluating the societal need for the services to be provided at a potential location. But it also means evaluating the land itself and working to integrate our projects with the natural surroundings. This leads us to search for more natural solutions to problems. We find these natural approaches often provide the best long-term results.

But what does the idea of natural design look like in real life? Designs range in scope and scale from natural drainage solutions like the rain gardens we have used on various projects to more futuristic renditions such as the ones found in this Curbed article.

When evaluating other local efforts in natural design, we can’t help but think about the oyster bed rebuilding efforts. Florida Gulf Coast University and other local organizations are spearheading an effort to rebuild oyster beds throughout Southwest Florida. Through organic and artificial design, these organizations are looking to reverse the effects of years of marine and coastline construction. These oyster beds provide many environmental and economic benefits for our community. They have been found to provide a phenomenal natural barrier to storm surge and shoreline erosion, and a NOAA study estimated that an acre of oyster reef sanctuary would provide $40,000 of additional value to commercial finfish and crustacean fisheries.

We hope others are inspired to work with nature rather than against it. These kinds of projects will make a lasting impact in our community and beyond. Contact us to learn how we can integrate natural design into your next project.

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