Living Shoreline Treatment Suitability Analysis: A Study on Coastal Protection Opportunities for Sarasota County

Briana N. Dobbs, Michael I. Volk, Nawari O. Nawari


Increases in the world population, sea level rise, and urbanization of coastal areas have put tremendous pressures on coastlines around the world. As a result, natural shoreline habitats are being replaced by seawalls and other hardened forms of coastal protection. Evidence shows that hardened shorelines can have a negative impact on the environment and surrounding habitat, leading to a loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. This research aims to increase the different forms of coastal protection used throughout Sarasota County, Florida by conducting a geographic information system (GIS) suitability analysis for living shoreline treatment. Living shorelines or hybrid solutions are a more ecologically sustainable alternative to traditional forms of coastal protection, which use natural ecosystems or alternatively- structural organic and natural materials such as plantings, rocks, and oyster beds to stabilize shorelines and enhance shoreline habitat. The GIS model identifies coastlines that are 1) most suitable for living shoreline treatment, 2) most suitable for a hybrid solution, or 3) not suitable for living shorelines by analyzing the bathymetry, land use, land value, tree canopy, population, wave energy, shoreline sensitivity, and shoreline habitat. The suitability for living shoreline treatments was assessed independently for each parameter and assigned a value ranging from 0, areas that should consider using traditional methods of coastal protection to 3, shoreline segments most suitable for living shoreline treatment. The results from the individual analyses for each parameter were combined using a weighted overlay approach to determine general suitability for living shorelines within the study area. The result found that over 95% of the shoreline segments are potentially suitable for hybrid shoreline stabilization solutions.

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Copyright (c) 2017 Briana Nicole Dobbs

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Journal of Sustainable Development   ISSN 1913-9063 (Print)   ISSN 1913-9071 (Online) Email:

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