Nature-Based Shorelines for Wisconsin’s Great Lakes Coast

This guide describes and highlights case studies for six different types of nature-based solutions suitable for the Great Lakes.


Nature-Based Shorelines for Wisconsin’s Great Lakes Coast




Nature-based shorelines (NBS) use or mimic natural features to stabilize the coast. These natural features can include vegetation, beaches, dunes and reefs. In addition to protecting the coast against erosion and flooding, nature-based shorelines can also benefit ecosystems, aesthetics and coastal processes.

Download Nature-Based Shorelines for the Great Lakes Coasts here

This guide describes six different types of NBS techniques that may be suitable for the Great Lakes and includes case studies for each technique to illustrate its use in this region.

Native vegetation planted on the shore to reinforce sediments with its roots, dissipate wave energy and slow erosive runoff and wind.

The placement of clean sediment, often sand, on beaches, dunes or in nearshore waters to replace lost sand or build dunes.

Slope Stabilization
Regrading or reinforcing an eroding or failing bluff, bank or dune to a stable slope to allow vegetation to establish.

The placement of coir logs, wood or stones at the toe, or base, of the shoreline to prevent erosion and allow vegetation to establish.

A low-profile structure located in the water just off the shoreline to dissipate wave energy and create an area of protected natural marsh.

Ecologically Enhanced Hard Armoring
Vegetation, textured surfaces or other features added to conventional hard armoring structures to provide habitat and other benefits. This also includes breakwaters built offshore to reduce wave energy at the coast and allow natural features like a beach or vegetation to establish.

Related Resources

Systematic Approaches to Geomorphic Engineering – Community of practice advancing natural coastal infrastructure practices

Natural and Structural Measures for Shoreline Stabilization – Brochure about the continuum of green and gray shore protection infrastructure

Living Shorelines Academy – Web resource with maps, databases, research, and training modules on living shorelines (another term for nature-based shorelines)