The Nature Conservancy in Rhode Island, logo.


2020 – 2022


Providence, RI

The Nature Conservancy in Rhode Island

Living Shorelines and Oyster Reef Restoration

Sea level rise and more frequent severe weather events will intensify the threats posed by coastal flooding and erosion in New England in the coming years and decades. Historically, seawalls have been used to limit the damage caused by coastal flooding or erosion. However, research has shown that seawalls can exacerbate the impacts of erosion and storms and that restoring natural features like salt marshes and dune grass can be much more beneficial.

The Nature Conservancy in Rhode Island (TNC RI) is partnering with the RI Coastal Resources Management Council and the City of East Providence to construct and monitor a nature-based shoreline protection project at Rose Larisa Park overlooking Narragansett Bay. The partnership will use natural methods to protect public recreation facilities located along a highly erosive section of shoreline. This will include installing soft biodegradable structures, planting native vegetation, and creating a salt marsh. The goal of this project is to showcase that nature-based solutions are an effective method for coastal communities to adapt to climate change impacts while also improving coastal habitats.

TNC RI is also looking to scale oyster reef restoration across multiple estuaries in Rhode Island for the benefits they provide, such as water filtration, habitats for other marine life, and shoreline erosion control. Oyster shells will be sourced from local restaurants and festivals to divert this valuable habitat-building material away from RI’s landfills.

Scope 2020
  • Construct two 100 foot living shorelines at an urban coastal park in East Providence, RI to test the efficiency of two types of living shoreline restoration that incorporates native vegetation plantings, and salt marsh creation.
  • Produce a guidance document for permitting agencies and practitioners in New England to advance living shorelines and adaptation strategies in the region.
  • Work with area restaurants and stakeholders to determine an efficient way to scale up oyster shell recycling in Rhode Island.
  • Enlist community members and staff to gather data on water quality, oyster recruitment, and site suitability for oyster reef installation in strategic waters throughout Rhode Island.

About The Nature Conservancy Rhode Island

The Nature Conservancy in Rhode Island was founded in 1989 and has since worked to protect over 35,000 acres of natural areas across the state. The Nature Conservancy is a global environmental nonprofit working to create a world where people and nature can thrive. Founded at its grassroots in the United States in 1951, The Nature Conservancy now impacts conservation in 72 countries across six continents. Its mission is to conserve the land and waters on which all life depends, and its vision is a world where the diversity of life thrives, and people act to conserve nature for its own sake and its ability to fulfill our needs and enrich our lives.

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