How living structures can better protect our coastline | 3/15/2017 | Staff
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Waves, tides, storms and hurricanes can all take a toll on the coastline, eroding the land and rewriting the shoreline. Those changes can put infrastructure and communities at risk. But researchers are rolling out new guidelines to help create more effective "living shorelines" that protect against erosion while improving environmental quality.

"Our goal was to lay out parameters that people need to consider when creating oyster reefs to limit coastal erosion," says Matt Campbell, a Ph.D. student at North Carolina State University and co-author of guidance included in the forthcoming book Living Shorelines: The Science and Management of Nature-Based Coastal Protection. The book consists of peer-reviewed chapters that offer the latest research-driven information about creating and maintaining living shorelines.

Traditional - Shoreline - Protection - Measures - Seawalls

"Traditional shoreline protection measures – such as seawalls and breakwaters – often protect one section of the shore, but can exacerbate erosion elsewhere or disrupt existing ecosystems," says Campbell, whose expertise is incorporated in a book chapter on oyster reefs. "That's why the field of 'living shorelines' – using living things to grow environmentally beneficial erosion control systems – are becoming more and more popular. In many cases, these projects consist of an oyster reef backed by marshland."

"The need to protect coastal regions is becoming increasingly important," says Steve Hall, an associate professor of biological engineering at NC State and lead author of the chapter on oyster reefs. "Populations and infrastructure are moving closer to the coast, even as coastal areas are facing more severe storms and other environmental challenges.

Chapter - Issues - Conditions

"Our chapter addresses fundamental and practical issues ranging from how to design oyster reefs to account for local conditions to where to place...
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