MacArthur Green and charity partner Seawilding awarded £10,549 SMEEF grant to restore native oysters to Loch Gair

MacArthur Green, one of Scotland’s leading environmental consultancy firms, and its charity partner Seawilding, has been awarded a £10,549 grant by the Scottish Marine Environmental Enhancement Fund (SMEEF) to look into restoring native oysters to a Scottish loch.

The Glasgow-based business and Seawilding, based at Loch Craignish, Argyll, successfully applied for SMEEF funding to carry out detailed research into the current state of the oyster population in Lochgair.

The project comes after MacArthur Green purchased land and foreshore at Lochgair, on the north-westerly shore of Loch Fyne in Argyll, in 2016. A recent survey by Seawilding as part of the SMEEF grant, found that apart from pockets of large live native oysters in the loch, the number of molluscs has dwindled over time due to past of unsustainable harvesting and potentially climate change, with a significant lack of young ones spotted in its waters.

In addition to the survey, MacArthur Green and Seawilding will use the funds to engage with the local community with a view to laying the groundwork for the re-establishment of a thriving native oyster population in Lochgair, as part of their community-led marine habitat restoration.

Oysters are important to the environment because they ‘filter’ seawater, from which they get their food and nutrients. This purifies the water by removing pollutants and chemicals. One oyster alone can filter 200 litres of water a day. In addition to these benefits, oysters also sequester carbon and contribute to biodiversity by creating underwater reefs.

David MacArthur, who owns MacArthur Green with wife Kirsty, said: “Our desk based research and survey work has shown that in the past Lochgair and Kames Bay contained abundant native oyster and blue mussel populations, which were an important source of food and income for the local community.

“Now only a fraction remain in the loch. We want to join the growing marine habitat restoration movement by undertaking a restoration of the native oyster population in Lochgair’s waters in partnership with Seawilding.”

This exciting partnership project is the latest undertaking by MacArthur Green, which works with clients to successfully deliver projects that are beneficial to the environment. MacArthur Green follow a biodiversity positive, carbon conscious business model, which helps to green their client’s supply chains and also helps to encourage other businesses to adopt a similar approach by showing leadership in this area.

Part of this model involves the carbon conscious work MacArthur Green has and is continuing to undertake at Lochgair to reduce its carbon footprint. In 2019, David and Kirsty oversaw the planting of almost 30,000 trees at its woodland site at Lochgair. This will not only enhance biodiversity in the area but absorb 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over the next 100 years.

Kirsty MacArthur added: “A native woodland is nature’s way of removing CO2 from the atmosphere while also boosting the natural habitat for wildlife in the area. For us, it is a common sense approach to land management and the environment that our clients would value and support. “We have also invested in three hybrid and electric vehicles, while all our employees travel by train for mainland UK meetings.”

Danny Renton of Seawilding said: “We are extremely grateful to SMEEF that they have awarded our partnership project with MacArthur Green £10,549 that will not only significantly benefit native oyster populations in Loch Gair but empower the area’s local citizens to invest their own time and energy into making sure this project is a success.”

Sarah Brown, Fund Manager for SMEEF at NatureScot said: “We are delighted to be supporting MacArthur Green through the awarding of a £10,549 grant to establish whether a viable population of native oysters exists in Loch Gair, and what the potential might be for restoring this population.”