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Assessing Ecological and Physical Performance of Sustainable Shoreline Structures

Assessing Ecological and Physical Performance of Sustainable Shoreline Structures

Project Photo

Why this work?

Nature-based, ecologically enhanced, or soft shoreline stabilization techniques (hereafter termed “sustainable shorelines”) have the potential to maintain and enhance important ecological services, provide greater resilience to physical forces, and be cost-competitive with traditional approaches such as revetments and bulkheads. In order for these techniques to be used more widely in the Hudson River Estuary, their performance must be demonstrated and evaluated locally. Landowners, site designers, and decision makers have expressed this need to enhance their confidence in proposing innovative designs to clients, investing in sustainable shoreline construction, and steering permit applications toward these less traditional options.

About this project

Over the past eight years, the Science Collaborative has supported the Hudson River Sustainable Shorelines Project, which engages a regional research team to quantify the ecological functions and physical stresses on the full range of Hudson River shorelines. This research is the basis for development of information and tools needed by regulators, engineers, and resource managers to identify the best settings and approaches for sustainable shoreline protection in the Hudson River Estuary. The research included the establishment of a sustainable shoreline demonstration network of seven sites with varying modes of construction distributed along the Hudson. The current project expands that work by 1) developing and fieldvalidating rapid assessment protocols for physical and ecological functions of ecologically enhanced shorelines and 2) training local land managers in these protocols. This work will solidify confidence in the suitability of novel shoreline techniques in the Hudson River Estuary and enable local managers to track performance.

Project lead and contact

Stuart Findlay, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Email:

To learn more, view the project factsheet (PDF). 

Hudson River Sustainable Shorelines Project

Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve