Increasing awareness of living shorelines for erosion protection


2012 to 2013


While New York state is urging coastal property owners and managers to use living shorelines as the preferred method for erosion control for environmental reasons, these audiences didn't have the information they needed to make intelligent choices regarding the suitability of this approach for their particular sites. New York Sea Grant organized a workshop that brought together top experts in this field to share their expertise with New York audiences. Participants learned how to evaluate, site, design and implement living shoreline projects and are using this information to plan projects for New York.


Several New York state reports have called for the use of “living shorelines” for coastal erosion control since this method has environmental benefits and is considered more “adaptable” to sea level rise than traditional erosion control structures. Agencies and NGOs are also promoting living shorelines for erosion protection. Unfortunately, living shorelines are not currently used in New York due to regulatory hurdles, a populace that is not familiar with this approach and a lack of reliable technical information.


With funding from the National Sea Grant Office’s Climate Change Adaptation Initiative, New York Sea Grant’s (NYSG) Coastal Processes Specialist organized and chaired a New York Living Shorelines Work Group and Steering Committee with representatives of government agencies, marine contractors and consulting firms. With this committee, the specialist planned and held a technical workshop titled Living Shorelines for Coastal Erosion Protection in a Changing World.


The workshop attracted 90 federal, state and local officials; property owners and managers; marine consultants and contractors; NGOs; and property owners who learned how to evaluate, site, design and implement living shoreline projects from nationally recognized experts with extensive experience in designing, building and monitoring living shoreline projects around the country. After attending the workshop, a New York State Coastal Management Program representative said the state would use $800,000 to fund a living shorelines demonstration project, a workshop recommendation; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers informed NYSG that information from the workshop was being used in the development of a $20 million study to identify strategies to reduce risk and increase resiliency in the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy; and the head of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s Marine Habitat Section indicated they would re-evaluate their regulations to encourage the use of living shorelines.

Submitted by: 

  • Tanski, Joseph J

Researchers involved: 

  • Tanski, Joseph J

Organizations involved: 

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • GEI Consulting
  • First Coastal Corp

International focus: 

  • United States of America

United States focus: 

  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Maryland
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Virginia

New York State focus: 

  • Bronx
  • Kings
  • Nassau
  • New York
  • Queens
  • Richmond
  • Suffolk
  • Westchester