Why Use a Living Shoreline Approach?
Valuable coastal wetlands hug the edges of our bays and estuaries around the state of Florida. Coastal wetlands are buffers between land and water that protect and stabilize the shoreline and adjacent lands where people live, providing many ecological services and economic benefits. Every LSL should be designed to mimic these natural wetlands to help provide as many of the same amenities as possible.
Living Shorelines provide the following benefits:
- Reduce wave energy and associated shoreline erosion (property loss)
- Reduce storm water flow rates into receiving waters
- Buffer the effects of storms, especially tropical storms and hurricanes
- Build up shoreline areas by trapping sediments, and stabilize shoreline land
- Ensure natural sediment movement along shorelines
- Improve water quality in our bays and estuaries by filtering pollutants like a living “kidney”
- Provide for shorelines that are resilient to storm damage and sea level rise all on their own. A gradually sloping interface between land and sea helps maintain a plant community that can adapt as sea level rises.
- Create connections between the waters and lands through exchange of energy produced by plants
- Trap carbon to help reduce the effects of climate change
- Create and connect diverse animal habitats, provide migratory corridors for plants and animals, and support valuable fisheries
- Provide recreational opportunities for humans
- Beautify shorelines
For more information, check out http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/living-shorelines.pdf.
A hybrid approach that combines ‘green’ and ‘grey’ structures to protect a shoreline.
The beauty of a Living Shoreline
Keep in mind that LSL projects should not be constructed on existing naturally-functioning shorelines. ‘Do nothing’ is always the first approach to consider. Shorelines erode and accrete over time. As shoreline development continues, and when “do-nothing” and allowing shoreline retreat are not options, a more natural approach to shoreline stabilization is preferable to shoreline hardening.