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SAGE WEBINAR: Sustainable Shorescapes – Using Natural and Created Marshes to Preserve Coastal Resilience

September 21 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Join SAGE (Systems Approach to Geomorphic Engineering) on September 21st (1:00 pm EDT) for a free webinar. Sustainable shorescapes: using natural and created marshes to preserve coastal resilience will be presented by Donna Marie Bilkovic, Research Associate Professor of Marine Science, Center for Coastal Resources Management, Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

Register here.

Globally, shoreline protection approaches are evolving towards the use of marsh vegetation and other natural and nature-based features (living shorelines henceforth), as a preferred alternative to shoreline armoring.

SAGE proposes a conceptual framework delineating theoretical differences in living shoreline salt marshes from natural marshes in order to identify research priorities and engineering challenges to improve the capacity of these created habitats.  Prominent differences influencing ecosystem development and coastal resilience include (1) differences in the plant communities, (2) the use of coarse sand material, (3) the uniform topography, vegetation, and edge characteristics, and (4) impacts of novel habitat introduction.  Some of these differences may change over time and some may be lessened with design modifications. In addition, faunal interactions with saltmarshes vary in created and natural marshes. We present new findings of a living shoreline salt marsh ecosystem, focusing on the predominant marsh bivalve, Geukensia demissa (ribbed mussel).  Positive interactions occur between Geukensia demissa and Spartina alterniflora (cordgrass) facilitating many ecosystem services.

Gains in high-functioning marsh acreage through the use of living shoreline strategies may help offset projected loss of existing salt marshes to erosion, sea level rise, and development. The scope and success of living shoreline projects can be enhanced by collaborating with scientists, managers, engineers, and landowners, as well as by gaining a better understanding of the elements driving shoreline management decision. Moving living shoreline science forward as a cross-disciplinary study will maximize benefits to both the human and natural systems, promoting coastal areas which are truly resilient into the next century.