Living Shorelines: From Barriers to Opportunities

A report from Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE), “Living Shorelines: From Barriers to Opportunities,” provides a national assessment of institutional barriers that are preventing broader use of living shorelines, and gives recommendations and strategies for progress. 

RAE describes living shorelines as a suite of techniques that offer property owners the opportunity to protect and restore their shoreline using more naturally-occurring systems like salt marsh and oyster reefs while also providing benefits to bays and estuaries.
The majority of this report is organized around three topics: background information about the current state of living shorelines use; barriers preventing the broader use of living shorelines; and recommended strategies to overcome the barriers. As these topics are often interconnected, some occur under more than one of these sections.

The report discusses three major obstacles to broader use of living shorelines:

  • institutional inertia;
  • lack of a broader planning context; and
  • lack of an advocate.

To address these obstacles, RAE has identified the following strategies:

  • education and outreach;
  • regulatory reform;
  • improve institutional capacity; and
  • public agencies as role models.

Each strategy identifies a number of specific and actionable recommendations for decision and policy makers. Overarching key findings are presented throughout the “Background” and “Barriers” sections of the report, and findings and recommendations are presented specific to each recommended strategy.

Considering living shorelines through an adaptive lens, the report confirms: “The use of living shorelines is one approach that can be executed very successfully at appropriate locations as a way to address erosion and flood threats, protect habitat and ecosystem services, and help adapt to ecosystem shifts brought about by climate change, especially sea-level rise.”

Report authors include five experts in living shorelines policy and management including Restore America’s Estuaries, North Carolina Coastal Federation, American Littoral Society, Scheda Ecological Associates, and Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant.

Restore America’s Estuaries is the leader of a national alliance of coastal conservation organizations across the country dedicated to the protection and restoration of bays and estuaries as essential resources for our nation.




Publication Date: June 18, 2015

Related Organizations:

  • Restore America’s Estuaries


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Best practice
  • Legal Analysis
  • Policy analysis/recommendations


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