Living Shorelines

What are living shorelines?

A living shoreline uses living plant material, oyster shells, earthen material, or a combination of natural structures with riprap or offshore breakwaters to protect property from erosion. Erosion is caused by wind, water, and wave action and results in loss of residential and commercial property, reduction of storm buffering capacity, aquatic and terrestrial habitat loss, increased suspended solids and water quality degradation. To combat these effects, property owners often erect bulkheads or seawalls. While these methods are certainly effective, they also tend to alter or create a loss of natural habitat. Living shorelines present an ecological and economic alternative that may be viable for low-erosional settings.

 

Benefits of Living Shorelines

  • Maintain natural coastal processes and shoreline dynamics.

  • Create or preserve habitats for native species of aquatic flora and fauna.

  • Preserve access for aquatic and terrestrial organisms.

  • Maintain land-to-water access for property owners.

  • Provide economical means of facilitating sediment accumulation, potentially resulting in formation of new land.

  • Create a natural buffer to reduce effects of erosion.

  • Trap and retain runoff and pollutants.