A living shoreline is a revolutionary shore protection method that incorporates natural features and reduces erosion by acting similar to features of the natural environment. Traditionally, the coastal zone has been protected by "hard" shoreline stabilization methods, including bulkheads, seawalls, and revetments. The goal of the living shorelines method is to better conform to the natural environmental surroundings and promote sustainability and habitat creation, while still promoting shoreline stabilization.
Over time, the term "living shoreline" has evolved from simply meaning a low profile stone or natural breakwater (marsh sill) to including a wider variety of projects that incorporate ecological principles into engineering design.
Our lab works to design, improve, and develop guidance on these systems, which take many different shapes and forms. The top right photo shows a marsh sill, which is designed to reduce wave energy and allow sediment accretion. The photo underneath shows a joint-planted revetment, which is an ecologically-enhanced version of a traditional stone revetment. The next photo is an example of an oyster reef, which serves a similar purpose as the marsh sill as shown in the first photo, where the oyster reef provides the wave dissipation effect. The bottom picture shows Reef Balls, which are concrete elements designed to attenuate wave energy and serve as the backbone of a natural reef.
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