Active Research project

Assessing Living Shoreline Stability and Function in Coastal Georgia

Project Information

Ashantilly shoreline before (left) and after (right) establishment of a living shoreline project by GA Department of Natural Resources using oysters and vegetation.

Currently, living shorelines are promoted nationally as a nature-based solution to abate shoreline erosion, while also enhancing and creating habitat such as oyster reef and Spartina alterniflora salt marshes. Though living shorelines have been widely studied in reference to their impact to habitat and nekton productivity, their ability to stabilize the shoreline has been understudied. In some locations, such as coastal Georgia (GA) where most living shoreline projects have involved oyster reefs and marsh vegetation, project stability has only been visually observed and not quantified (Figure 1). The lack of understanding of stability of living shorelines as well as how they compare to traditional stabilization methods in cost, ecological importance and stability are critical gaps. Large tidal ranges, high flows and the subtitle nature of reefs along the Georgia coasts, add weight to the implications of this knowledge gap. An improved understanding of living shoreline function and stability, as well as cost will improve our understanding of how these nature-based techniques function in coastal Georgia and in coastal settings with high tidal ranges. We propose to investigate the Georgia living shoreline projects by 1) using a functional analysis, 2) monitoring their physical structural attributes, 3) performing cost / benefit analyses. This analysis, though regional in scope, has broad implications for coastal stability projects nationwide that employ living shoreline components. Throughout the project we intend to have an ongoing focus on stakeholder engagement and education and outreach. This information will lead to a better assessment of the predicted resiliency of EWN living shoreline solutions and rationale for their implementation.

Point of Contact

Research Ecologist, Environmental Laboratory, ERDC


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