Why Choose 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 benefits to fish and wildlife and economic and recreational benefits to people. Every Living Shoreline (LSL) should be designed to mimic natural wetlands to help provide as many of the same services as possible.
Living Shorelines provide the following benefits:
- Reduce wave energy and associated shoreline erosion (property loss)
- Reduce storm water flow rates thereby reducing erosion and reducing pollution entering the bay or estuary
- Buffer the effects of storms, especially tropical storms and hurricanes
- Build-up shoreline areas by trapping sediments and stabilizing coastal 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. A gradually sloping interface between land and sea helps maintain a plant community that can adapt as sea level rises.
- Trap carbon to help reduce the effects of climate change
- Create and connect diverse animal habitats, provide migratory pathways for plants and animals, and support valuable fisheries
- Provide recreational opportunities for humans (e.g., fishing and birdwatching)
- Beautify shorelines
For more information on the benefits of a LSL, check out http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/living-shorelines.pdf.
Living shorelines provide better recreational opportunities, such as paddleboarding, kayaking, wildlife viewing, and fishing, than hardened shoreline structures.
A hybrid approach that combines ‘green’ and ‘grey’ structures to protect a 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” is not an option, a LSL is preferable to shoreline hardening.