Firth of Forth

In the Firth of Forth, an area the size of modern Edinburgh was once covered by European flat oyster beds, but by the early 1900s, they were all fished out. Together with our partners, Heriot-Watt University, and the local community, we’re working to restore European flat oysters, and other species, in the area.

About the project

Restoration Forth is a community-inspired marine restoration project that aims to reintroduce 30,000 European flat oysters and restore four hectares of seagrass to the Firth of Forth, Scotland.

Working with local communities, the Restoration Forth project team will research potential sites and trial methods for restoring oysters and seagrass to the area. They will then introduce a baseline population of oysters and seagrass, which will hopefully become self-sustaining over time.

Together, communities around the Firth of Forth and across Scotland can help restore our marine environment and influence Scottish Government policy for stronger marine protection. The Restoration Forth team will be engaging with local communities throughout the project, empowering them to get involved through education, training, and volunteering opportunities.

The vision of the project is for communities to become the local restoration champions and experts, to ensure further restoration is an ongoing legacy of the project.

Calum Duncan, Head of Conservation Scotland

Our partnership with Heriot-Watt University builds on our successful, ongoing collaboration as part of the award-winning Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project (DEEP) which aims to reintroduce native oysters to the Dornoch Firth.

Why oysters?

European flat oysters provide a wealth of ecosystem services. They enhance biodiversity and create nursery habitats, they can improve water quality by filtering up to 200 litres of water a day, and contribute to the stabilisation of carbon in the marine environment.

Globally, European flat oysters have declined by around 85%. Restoration Forth aims to restore and conserve this vital species by reintroducing oysters to the Firth of Forth, where they will enhance the local ecosystem.

Restoration Forth Oysters

Credit: Maverick Photo Agency


We’re also working to retore Seagrass in the Firth of Forth. Find out more about our seagrass restoration work.

Help restore the Firth of Forth

The Restoration Forth team have launched a brand-new citizen science guide.

Anyone can be a citizen scientist and it’s a great way to get involved in scientific projects, like oyster restoration, that bring about real change. Citizen science also offers lots of opportunities to get outside, meet new people and learn new skills and you can take part anywhere at any time.

There are lots of ways to get involved and collect information which contributes to our understanding of the marine environment. The Restoration Forth science team have identified three types of information which would be useful to collect about the survival and wider benefit of returning oysters to the Firth of Forth:

  • Finding the best places to restore oysters
  • Checking how the oysters are doing
  • Tracking the benefits of returning oysters

You can also keep up-to-date with upcoming events on the Restoration Forth website.

Get involved

Meet the team

Emmy Cooper-Young, Shellfish Restoration Officer

Emmy is working closely with Heriot-Watt University to develop a native oyster restoration plan for the Firth of Forth, scoping out suitable areas for native oysters to be returned to. We asked her why she wanted to get involved with the project.

Emmy with native oysters

Credit: Professor William Sanderson

Caitlin Godfrey, Shellfish Engagement Officer

Caitlin is leading on engaging communities around the Firth of Forth, and with support from Emmy and our expert citizen science team, will be recruiting volunteers to help return native oysters to their rightful place in the local marine ecosystem. Here she explains what she is most looking forward to about the project.

Caitlin Native Oysters

Credit: Amy Leach

Other shore activities

If you’re interested in more ways to contribute to marine projects, here are some other great citizen science projects you can get involved in.

A deeper dive into the science

Restoration Forth has a brilliant team of scientists who are researching lots of different elements of returning oysters and the impacts they have on marine environments.

Dive into the data here.

The Marine Conservation Society are part of this WWF-led project, alongside Heriot-Watt University, Project Seagrass, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Scottish Seabird Centre, Fife Ecology Centre, Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, Edinburgh Shoreline Project and Heart of Newhaven.