Living Shorelines

Using “green” infrastructure in coastal communities is an option that promises future payout. One form of “green” infrastructure that is growing popular in the Southeastern U.S. is living shorelines. Living shorelines control erosion and benefit the ecosystem by using organic materials such as plants, stone, and oyster reefs. Living shorelines are usually an alternative to or replacement of a hardened structure such as a seawall or rock revetment and are used in small scale (e.g., private homeowner) and large scale (e.g., county or city) installations.

*diagram from the Natural and Structural Measures for Shoreline Stabilization brochure created by
the Systems Approach to Geomorphic Engineering (SAGE 2015). Diagram from NOAA Living Shorelines.

Living shorelines offer several benefits over traditional, hardened infrastructure:

Lower Maintenance Costs: shoreline stabilization, sediment trapping, reduced wave energy, and reduced shoreline erosion.

Shoreline Aesthetics: increased habitat for wildlife (fish, birds, and invertebrates) and improved water quality in the surrounding area.

Each living shoreline project design is unique and must consider site-specific conditions including wave energy, existing slope, native species composition, water quality, aesthetics, and desired outcomes. It is important to obtain appropriate permits and adhere to all named conditions during design and installation. If you are interested in learning more or installing a living shoreline, contact EAI to navigate the design, permitting, and monitoring process.