What is it?

The shores of many lakes and waterways are eroding and deteriorating. Stabilization provides green, effective and affordable solutions to this problem. This phytotechnology uses plants in combination with other materials to stabilize the shorelines.

What is it used for?

Shoreline deterioration has a number of natural causes, like wind, ice, waves, flooding and extreme precipitation. But the problem is compounded by human activity. Driving motor boats, cutting down trees, pulling out shrubs, removing stumps, creating beaches, building supporting walls and putting in lawns all threaten the shoreline buffer strips that normally protect bodies of water.

Their accelerated erosion increases pollution, sand build-up and even the proliferation of invasive plant species. Through shoreline stabilization, it is possible to limit such damage and restore the essential services provided by buffer strips:

  • purifying water for consumption and swimming;
  • protecting land, crops and homes from water and wind;
  • mitigating the impact of flooding;
  • restoring biodiversity;
  • helping control the spread of invasive plant species

How is it made?

Shoreline stabilization works are generally structures built of branches of living plants in combination with rocks, piles, mesh, etc. The vegetation’s tangle of roots aids in soil retention and mitigates pollution through the action of the associated microorganisms.

Simple shoreline renaturalization techniques (like planting vegetation) do not require any special expertise. However, carrying out a plant-based stabilization project requires an in-depth study of the land and a good knowledge of existing methods.

In Quebec

The city of Québec was a pioneer in stabilizing shorelines. Polluted, channelled, backfilled and industrialized, the Saint-Charles River has been sorely tested by the passing years and human activity. Since 1996, 8,000 linear metres of concrete have given way to an abundance of vegetation, unique flora and fauna and a new linear park.

Photo : JS Tremblay

In the world

In the U.S., a phytotechnology project was launched in Texas in 2009 to stabilize the shores of Lake Austin. The project involved installing logs of coconut husk fibre and planting aquatic plant species.2

In France, plant-based engineering has seen significant growth and development in recent years—for instance, to protect mountain rivers.3

Photo : City of Austin