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The Green Shores Approach to Development

'Green Shores' is a program of the Stewardship Centre for British Columbia that promotes sustainable use of the shoreline by recognizing the ecological features and function of the shoreline ecosystems.  Unfortunately many of the natural features that attract us to the shorelines are often the negatively impacted by human activity and development.  Shoreline vegetation is beneficial for limiting erosion and stabilizing banks, it can absorb and filter rain water and contaminants carried in stormwater, and provide nutrients and shading that is critical for fish rearing and habitat; but often native trees, shrubs and grasses are cleared for building sites, landscaping or views and these 'ecosystem services' are lost.   Any type of shore armouring, such as seawalls, gabions, riprap or lock block, interrupts the natural coastal process and the connectivity between terrestrial and marine ecosystems.  Over waters, such as ramps or docks, and their supporting pilings can have significant impact to fish movement and their habitat, and damage marine vegetation that is important for food and protection for fish and other marine species. 

Fortunately, many of the negative impacts to the shoreline environment can be greatly reduced by incorporating Green Shores design principles into how we use the shoreline.  The Green Shores program is a program of the Stewardship Centre for British Columbia, a non-profit society with a mission to strengthen ecological stewardship in BC.

There are four Green Shores Principles:

  1. Coastal Processes: Preserve the integrity or connectivity of coastal processes
  2. Coastal Habitat and Species: Maintain or enhance habitat diversity and function
  3. Water and Sediment Quality: Address methods to minimize or reduce pollutants to the marine environment.
  4. Reduce Impacts on Shorelines: Reduce cumulative impacts to the coastal environment.

Examples of how Green Shores principles can be applied include:

  • Development of the shoreline area should be limited and designed so that the ecological health of the immediate area is not negatively impacted and public access to the foreshore is not impeded.
  • Sea level rise, storm surges, and other anticipated effects of climate change should be considered at the design stage for any construction and land alterations.
  • New upland shoreline structures or additions to existing structures should be set back sufficiently from the shoreline and designed to avoid the need for shore protection works now or in the future. When required shore protection works should apply the 'softest' approach possible and limit the size to the minimum necessary.
  • Shore Protection Measures are the range of modification measures to the shoreline, or adjacent seaward or landward areas, for the purpose of protection against erosion. Structural protection methods are often referred to as 'hard' and 'soft'. 'Hard' measures refer to those with solid, hard surfaces, such as concrete bulkheads, while 'soft' structural measures rely on less rigid materials such as biotechnical vegetation measures or beach enhancement. In general, the harder the construction measure, the greater the impact on shoreline processes, including sediment transport, geomorphology, and biological functions There is a range of measures varying from soft to hard that include:  

Green Shores Graphic

For more information on Green Shores, click here.




Page last updated: 13/08/19
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