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Natural Shorelines

Natural or living shorelines involve restoring or replicating natural coastal shorelines to protect against erosion and enhance ecosystems. These shorelines can also have flood protection benefits. A wide, shallow beach profile, for example, can help dissipate wave energy more than a steep, narrow shoreline. 

Naturalized shorelines tend to have a gradual slope to the beach, vegetation on the seaward side, and woody debris, trees and other vegetation above the high tide line for stability.

Potential Benefits Potential Challenges
  • Can provide self-sustaining erosion protection
  • Can enhance natural ecosystems, providing intertidal habitat and linking aquatic and upland habitats
  • Some designs can help dissipate wave energy and potentially lower the risk of flood
  • Requires maintenance (e.g., controlling invasive plants)
  • May disrupt sediment transport

In BC/Lower Mainland 

In BC, the concept of a “living dike” is being implemented as a pilot project in the Cities of Delta and Surrey. The living dike, which will enhance existing salt marshes in Boundary Bay, will help reduce wave action, protect against flooding and protect and enhance habitat.