Living Shorelines

What are living shorelines?

Living shorelines is a term used to define a number of shoreline protection options that allow for natural coastal processes to remain through the strategic placement of plants, stone, sand fill, and other structural and organic materials. Living shorelines often rely on native plants, sometimes supplemented with stone sills, on-shore or off-shore breakwaters, groins, or biologs to reduce wave energy, trap sediment, and filter runoff, while maintaining (or increasing) beach or wetland habitat (National Research Council, 2007). Several of these techniques are hybrids of traditional shoreline armoring and the softer approaches to shore protection. The goal is to retain much of the wind, tide, and storm-related wave protection of a hard structure, while maintaining some of the features of natural shorelines.

Living Shorelines Academy

Learn about living shorelines — what they are, how they are designed and built, and how they serve our coastal habitats and communities. Whether you are a property owner looking for alternatives to mitigate erosion on your shoreline property, or a contractor or policy maker looking to gain more in depth knowledge about the design and permitting of living shorelines, on this site you can find a course, project databases, literature and additional resources to help you achieve those goals.

Living Shorelines Community of Practice

Participants provide updates about what’s happening in their region, ask questions of the group to seek advice, and hear from a presenter about an issue related to living shorelines. Highlighted discussions include: implementation and design; outreach and engagement; policy, permitting, and regulations; funding and appropriations; and much more. Please send an email to Hilary Stevens if you’d like to be on the email list and participate in future gatherings.

Events & Workshops

2021 Living Shorelines Workshop
Hosted by: Restore America’s Estuaries, American Littoral Society, NJ Department of Environmental Protection, & the NJ and Chesapeake Bay field offices of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
October 20-21, 2021 | Cape May, NJ

2019 Living Shorelines Technology Transfer Workshop
Hosted by: Restore America’s Estuaries, North Carolina Coastal Federation
October 8-9, 2019 | Beaufort, NC

2nd National Technology Transfer Workshop
Hosted by: Restore America’s Estuaries, Save the Bay – San Francisco, California State Coastal Conservancy
February 21-22, 2018 | Oakland, CA

1st National Technology Transfer Meeting and Regional Workshops
Hosted by: Restore America’s Estuaries, Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation
December 1-2, 2015 |  Hartford, CT


Living Shorelines: From Barriers to Opportunities — This report provides the first national assessment of institutional barriers preventing broader use of living shorelines. The report provides clear recommendations and strategies to move forward.

Restore-Adapt-Mitigate: Responding to Climate Change Through Coastal Habitat Restoration — This report links ecologically important coastal habitat restoration, and the use of living shorelines, with adaption and mitigation strategies as a way to reduce the impacts of climate change.