Living shorelines must replicate surrounding areas to ensure that the man-made structure is suitable for the local flora and fauna. A living shoreline may not be attainable if there are not any successful natural shorelines nearby to replicate. This strategy makes the living shoreline most conducive to success because the natural areas are adapted to the local climate and are prepared to withstand any natural disasters that may occur.
In addition, Clark notes that stability may look different for each instance:
“If you have a massive hurricane, they are going to be damaged just like natural shorelines are damaged. …They are going to develop the way they want to develop, not necessarily the way you want them to develop,” explained Clark.
Clark’s living shorelines projects are not a permanent solution to shoreline erosion. Climate change is constantly altering factors such as temperature, sea level, and number of natural disasters, all of which will affect Florida’s shorelines. As a result, even the most well-designed living shoreline can eventually succumb to the sea if any factor of its success changes.
One of the first FMNP Coastal Restoration courses taught in the Florida Panhandle. This is an example of how people can get involved in shoreline preservation through education. NCBS also offers other Extension programs that anyone can join. (Photo/BettyLou Reid, UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant)
Because the success of living shorelines is such a fragile situation, Clark urges everyone to contribute to the project’s success. Contributions can be as simple as educating yourself on your local shores, taking actions to ensure you are not contributing to the problem, and advocating for shoreline preservation.
Photo essay created by: Natasha Roberts, Undergraduate Student, UF Department of Agricultural Education and Communication
Photos provided by:
- Dr. Mark Clark
- UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station
- Florida Sea Grant