Living Shorelines/Green Infrastructure

CIRCA Living Shorelines Projects & Products

CIRCA’s current research projects in the area of living shorelines are listed on the Living Shorelines Projects & Products site. There you can find a description of ongoing projects and any products from the project, including tools, reports, data, presentations, etc.

Below is a general description of living shorelines.


Living shorelines are nature-based erosion control techniques. Living shorelines are not a new concept, though they are new to Connecticut and the Northeast. As much of the State’s shoreline is armored with hardened structures, there is a growing interest in preserving the natural elements of the shore while also providing protection from erosion.

This interest can be found even within state government; after significant storms struck Connecticut, the CT Legislature passed Public Act (12-101) (2012): An Act Concerning the Coastal Management Act and Shoreline Flood Erosion Control Structures. This Act calls for consideration of alternatives to hard shoreline armament, like living shorelines. With this specific law in place, there is an urgency to fully understand the science and policy issues surrounding living shoreline deployment in Connecticut. CIRCA is actively working in Connecticut and regionally to provide the necessary information to successfully implement living shorelines where appropriate, across the state.

Living shorelines can be an excellent alternative to hard structures at the coast for a variety of reasons. Importantly, hard structures (e.g. bulkheads, revetments, seawalls, etc.) are often damaging to a coastline. These types of structures can increase erosion at the shore, inhibit natural coastal processes, and destroy natural habitat for fish, animals, and plants. Where hard structures ‘fail,’ living shorelines succeed. Living shorelines mimic natural settings and have many positive co-benefits to erosion control, including but not limited to: habitat creation, water quality enhancement, and maintaining natural coastal processes.

Living shorelines are built, and may include some hardened elements (hybrid approaches). See photos for different types of living shorelines.

CIRCA and Living Shorelines

CIRCA’s research projects are intended to better understand the application of living shorelines as an erosion control technique in the State. Little is known on what to site, where to site, or how to site, in terms of the use of this technology in Connecticut. CIRCA will work to advance the general understanding of living shorelines as well technical aspects. As living shorelines are a relatively new erosion control method in the State and region, CIRCA will work to increase public awareness in Connecticut and with regional partners.