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Coastal Green Infrastructure Research Plan for New York City

Coastal green infrastructure protecting the shoreline at
Coastal green infrastructure protecting the shoreline at
Brooklyn Bridge Park (NYS Department of City Planning).

The Hudson River Estuary Program and the New York City Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency and Department of City Planning have released a research plan the use of nature-based features (or coastal green infrastructure) to protect the coastal areas of New York City from erosion and flooding. The plan was developed by ARCADIS and the Steven's Institute of Technology and was funded through a partnership with the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission.To read the full report, please download Coastal Green Infrastructure Research Plan for NYC (PDF 1.16 MB).

What is Coastal Green Infrastructure?

Coastal green infrastructure (CGI) strategies protect shorelines from coastal flooding by creating, restoring, or emulating natural coastal features, like reefs. These strategies reduce erosion and mitigate storm surge, wave action, and still-water flooding associated with coastal flood events. They are also known as nature-based features because they mimic natural coastal features and provide habitat, water quality and ecosystem value.

Which types of coastal green infrastructure does the report examine?

Six CGI strategies were identified as most relevant in NYC coastal areas:

  • Constructed wetlands and maritime forests;
  • Constructed reefs;
  • Constructed breakwater islands;
  • Channel shallowing;
  • Ecologically-enhanced bulkheads and revetments; and
  • Living shorelines (sill-type).

What is in the plan?

The plan summarizes the latest scientific understanding of ecological and risk reduction benefits of coastal green infrastructure strategies, as well as knowledge gaps. The research plan also describes and prioritizes research needs moving forward. The plan aims to aid decision-makers as they evaluate strategies to protect New York Harbor's future.

How was the plan developed?

Over the course of the last year, a team of state and city agencies, academics, non-profits and consultants worked on the research plan. First, the team surveyed and reviewed available literature to determine the status of the science related to each strategy. Researchers reviewed hazard mitigation potential, ecological benefits, and reasons for failure, in addition to unknowns and data gaps. The team then engaged stakeholders and experts through a series of workshops to identify research priorities.

What kind of research is needed?

The research plan consists of two sections. The first outlines research needs that cut across all coastal green infrastructure strategies. Examples of cross-cutting research needs include mapping which CGI strategies are most appropriate for specific shoreline reaches, and the development of baseline data (e.g. ice, wake, wave, sediment) and monitoring protocols that are consistent across agencies. The second section consists of research needs that are specific to one or a selected group of CGI strategies like improving understanding of which types of wetland vegetation work best to attenuate waves.

Who participated in developing the research plan?

The study was funded by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation's Hudson River Estuary Program through the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission. The Estuary Program worked closely with New York City Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency and Department of City Planning to develop the project concept and funded ARCADIS and the Stevens Institute of Technology to develop the research plan. The Nature Conservancy, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, and SCAPE Landscape Architecture all participated in conducting the principal research.

How will the research plan be implemented?

The Hudson River Estuary Program, New York City Department of City Planning and the New York/New Jersey Harbor and Estuary Program are partnering to organize efforts to collaborate with stakeholders on priority research topics in the coming year.

For Further Assistance:

The Hudson River Estuary Program provides assistance to communities and individuals in climate resilience. Contact our Climate Program at (845) 256-3153 or email

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