Embracing dynamic design for climate-resilient living shorelines.

Published online
01 May 2021
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Mitchell, M. & Bilkovic, D. M.
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This paper draws on scientific literature and practical experience with living shoreline design and application to make recommendations for how living shorelines can be sited, built and maintained to be resilient to sea level rise. Tidal marshes are naturally adaptive systems that alter their location and elevation to fit changing sea levels. Embracing the dynamic characteristics of these systems when designing living shorelines will result in more resilient shoreline designs. Considering longevity in both project siting and project design is critical to ensuring shoreline protection and the continuation of ecological services from living shorelines. Key considerations include: siting that allows for landward marsh retreat with rising sea levels, wherever possible; healthy and appropriate plant communities that can stabilize and accrete sediments with consideration of species diversity and density of plantings to maximize productivity and sediment accretion; sill structures designed to enhance sedimentation while not limiting faunal use of the marsh, including the use of "windows" in the sill to promote faunal movement; and which include biotic components, such as oysters, allowing adaptation to rising sea levels; and, an improved societal understanding of the benefits of dynamic shoreline protection designs.

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