Living shoreline
techniques along
estuarine waterways

Bundesanstalt für Wasserbau Bundesanstalt für Gewässerkunde
Technisch-biologische Ufersicherungen im Ästuarbereich

Living shoreline techniques along estuarine waterways

The banks of estuarine waterways are exposed to high loads due to tidal water level changes and currents as well as changes in salinity. Similarly, large current and wave loads are experienced as a result of wind waves and large seagoing vessels.

The governing hydromorphological dynamics cause different ecological interactions between plant and animal species at the banks requiring specific adaption strategies. In order to develop forward-thinking solutions for environmentally friendly bank protection measures in this unique and complex environment further research and development is needed.

In 2019 the Federal Institute of Hydrology (BAW) and the Federal Waterways Engineering and Research Institute (BfG) started investigating the applicability and the ecological effectiveness of living shoreline techniques in estuaries to develop technical guidelines and recommendations for practitioners. In doing so, the Federal Institutes are collaborating with practitioners within the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration (WSV) who already implement various traditional bank protection measures using e.g. dead wood. In the heterogeneous conditions of brackish tidal estuaries, bank protection with living materials however remains challenging and is therefore applied less frequently. The same applies for indirect measures such as reprofiling and flattening of steep bank slopes.

A compilation of implemented bank protections using living shoreline techniques in the tidal estuaries of the Elbe, Weser, Ems and Eider can be found here:

Compilation of living shoreline techniques in German estuarine Federal waterways