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Living Shoreline Lecture Nov. 30 in Wanchese

Living shorelines (foreground) and bulkheads (background) both provide erosion control, with different ecological functions for coastal ecosystems. Photo: Rachel Gittman

WANCHESE — The University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute, or UNC CSI, is set to host a lecture on shoreline erosion control strategies as part of its “Science on the Sound” lecture series.

The monthly series highlights information on coastal topics and issues in northeast North Carolina. The program is scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 30 at UNC CSI, 850 N.C. 345 in Wanchese. The presentation is free and the public is welcome to attend.

This month, the program will feature Rachel Gittman, assistant professor in the Department of Biology at East Carolina University. She will present “Are We Engineering Away Our Natural Defenses Along North Carolina’s Coast?,” which will highlight a variety of erosion control strategies, both natural and engineered, and the benefits each bring to coastal systems.

The demand for coastal defense strategies against storms has increased with population growth and development along coastlines. Shoreline hardening is a practice designed to prevent erosion and loss of property, but that also has the potential to alter coastal ecosystem function.

Gittman’s research focuses on understanding the extent, drivers, and ecological consequences of shoreline hardening, such as bulkheads, as well as evaluating the functionality of alternative shore protection approaches, such as living shorelines.

Results from multiyear field studies and waterfront resident surveys in North Carolina suggest that living shorelines promote higher diversity and abundances of marine organisms, and are also more resilient to erosion and damage from major storm events than bulkheads.

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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.