NEW North Carolina’s Living Shorelines application

The Conservancy has partnered with scientists at NOAA’s Beaufort Lab to create the NEW Living Shorelines application (app) by bringing in their research on shorelines in the southern Pamlico, Core and Bogue Sounds and the New River Estuary so that managers and residents can identify where to apply more natural techniques to stabilize their shores.  This tool identifies where shoreline wave energy conditions are suitable to ensure successful living shoreline projects.

Since 2011, the scientists at NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science have been working to fill gaps in the research and science behind using natural techniques like living shorelines to control shoreline erosion.  NOAA has examined how shoreline hardening negatively effects estuarine animals; the relationship between shoreline wave energy, marsh distribution and marsh erosion rates; and the ability of fringing marshes to attenuate waves and trap sediments.

Their results fed into a Living Shoreline suitability analysis that is the backbone of NOAA and Conservancy’s Living Shoreline app.  This tool is a big step towards providing science-based guidance to improve siting and design of these projects.

The Conservancy is unveiling the tool to partners and hopes to expand the coverage of the tool in the future.  For now, NOAA and The Conservancy are interested in hearing how the tool is used and could be improved.

“This tool will help homeowners and marine contractors team up for success, to design living shoreline projects that protect homes and property”, said Kenneth Riley, a Fishery Biologist with National Marine Fisheries Service.  “The tool is the result of decades of research and the maps produced help coastal managers with smart planning.  We recommend that the Living Shorelines tool is used in conjunction with traditional planning and engineering to help design a living shoreline to achieve optimal restoration results,” said Riley.

With over 12,000 miles of shoreline in North Carolina, managing erosion and stabilization is a large task.  The Conservancy’s new tool enables communities to defend their waterfront using natural techniques when feasible as an alternative to ‘hard’ shoreline stabilization methods like rip-rap or bulkheads.

Living shorelines can effectively combat erosion in low-energy areas and often cost significantly less than engineered shoreline stabilization techniques, as well as provide numerous benefits including nutrient pollution reduction, essential fish habitat, and buffering of shoreline from waves and storms.

Since 2007, The Nature Conservancy has been working with coastal communities and scientists in the development of Coastal Resilience, an approach and online decision support tool.  The Living Shorelines app is part of the Coastal Resilience tool which incorporates science and spatial data to create maps that show the best ways to use natural solutions such as living shorelines to make shorelines naturally resilient.

View the Living Shorelines tool in action!