In the past, shorelines were typically stabilized with hardened structures, such as bulkheads and seawalls, to prevent or minimize coastal erosion. However, scientists have found that these structures can actually increase the rate of coastal degradation. Waves reflect off the hardened structures, scouring the area in front of the wall and causing additional shoreline erosion. Bulkheads and seawalls also block tidal water flow to coastal wetlands, as well as hamper natural flood control, water treatment potential, and access for juvenile fish to their nursery habitat.
For those interested, VIMS Center for Coastal Resources Management has a site dedicated to living shorelines. The National Research Council also has an book titled "Mitigating Shore Erosion along Sheltered Coasts". Living shorelines can provide numerous ecosystem services including nursery habitat, nutrient and sediment filtering, and mitigation of erosion.
Coastal shorelines have exhibited chronic degradation, in that land use patterns have slowly changed over time. Because these changes impact the system as a whole, it makes sense to promote shoreline stabilization strategies which will reduce water pollution and promote nursery areas.
Craig Landry and I have a survey paper discussing the use of hedonic property models to measure property owners' willingness-to-pay for risk reduction and amenities in coastal zones. The paper focuses on ways hedonic property models can be applied to living shorelines.