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NOAA Releases "Guidance for Considering the Use of Living Shorelines"

NOAA Releases "Guidance for Considering the Use of Living Shorelines"

Promoting living shorelines as a shoreline stabilization technique

Laura Wilson

NOAA has released a Guidance for Considering the Use of Living Shorelines, which outlines how we promote living shorelines as a shoreline stabilization technique. Along sheltered coasts, living shorelines can preserve and improve habitats and the benefits they provide and promote resilient communities. 

Coastal communities face constant challenges from shoreline erosion. Erosion is a natural process, but it threatens many valuable resources along the nation’s coastline. Shorelines need protection from intense storms, wave erosion, and sea level rise. Living shorelines are an alternative to traditional shoreline stabilization techniques, like seawalls and bulkheads. These techniques create a barrier between land and water and can actually increase erosion.

Living shoreline is a broad term that encompasses a range of shoreline stabilization techniques. While methods may vary, a living shoreline generally incorporates vegetation or other living, natural “soft” elements. These can be used alone or in combination with “harder” shoreline structures, like oyster reefs or rocks, for added stability. Living shorelines reduce erosion while providing habitat value and enhancing coastal resilience. For a full definition of living shorelines, consult the Guidance. 

NOAA laboratory in Beaufort, NC. Image: Carolyn Currin.

Readers will learn about:

  • NOAA living shorelines guiding principles, 

  • NOAA’s role in providing science, tools, and training to help select appropriate techniques

  • How to navigate NOAA’s potential regulatory and programmatic roles in living shorelines 

  • project planning

  • Questions to consider when planning a shoreline stabilization effort.

Find more information on the release here and find the Guidance here (PDF download). 

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