What’s going on?
Human actions, like coastal development, rapidly increase or intensify erosion along the shoreline. Sea-level rise and more intense storms exacerbate the issue.
Creating barriers between the water and land by using seawalls and similar hard structures have been one approach to combating erosion. However, these do not provide ecosystem services, such as better water quality or habitat for wildlife. They can even sometimes disturb natural processes and increase erosion by fueling wave energy.
A living shoreline is a relatively new erosion management practice that uses natural materials like oysters, mangroves, and salt marsh grasses to restore or enhance the shoreline. This practice also keeps some of the ecosystem services mentioned before intact.
There are currently projects in Cedar Key, Panama City, Jensen Beach, and many other locations statewide.
Why it matters.
Living shorelines decrease erosion, but they also provide countless other benefits. They provide habitat for many species, improve water quality, store carbon, and absorb wave energy. These benefits will become increasingly relevant as Floridians continue to see the impacts of climate change.
Shoreline stabilization is also critical for coastal property owners and important to Florida’s tourism industry. Florida’s water resources are crucial to the state’s economy and environment, from recreation to biodiversity to fishing industries.
Living shorelines provide environmentally compatible solutions to protect and conserve those resources.
What you can do.
- Learn more about how and why living shorelines work.
- Find living shorelines near you and see them in action!
- Support local and statewide efforts to build living shorelines in vulnerable coastal areas.
- If you live on or near a living shoreline, take extra care to avoid stepping on species or otherwise disturbing the area.
- Learn about innovations in living shoreline projects that reduce the amount of plastic involved and use oyster reefs!
- Explore images of living shoreline projects from Florida Sea Grant here!