Tybee Island’s Dune Restoration Project Sets New Standard for Coastal Resilience

The Takeaway: Tybee Island restores eroding dunes using native plantings and innovative monitoring methods, leading to nationwide recognition and providing resources for other coastal resilience efforts.

Plants grow on top of sand dunes
Dune vegetation and native plantings are examples of nature-based solutions in which natural or modified ecosystems protect or sustainably manage challenges like flooding or erosion.

Tybee Island’s beaches were eroding, yet no established dune restoration practices or beach management plan was in place. To address this challenge, Georgia’s Coastal Management Program partnered with the City of Tybee Island and Georgia Southern University to design a solution. The results were exceptional, setting a new set of best practices for beach stabilization efforts. To share the results far and wide, a comprehensive best practices manual was established, public meetings and educational outreach and training events were held, and a web-based coastal resilience portal was developed.

Plants grow on top of sand dunes with houses in the background.
Photo courtesy of ResilientTybee.com

The Georgia project used four restoration treatments that focused on revegetation methods for sand accumulation and stability. A revolutionary monitoring protocol was established, using volunteers to increase accuracy and replicability by monitoring sand accretion and erosion. Approximately 93,000 native dune plants, including 77,000 sea oats, were planted, bolstering dune stability.

Tybee Island’s remarkable progress in enhancing coastal resilience has garnered nationwide acclaim. Honors include being rated as the Best Restored Beach in America by the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recognized Tybee Island as an exemplary city for effective flooding mitigation in its Resilient America program. (2023)

Partners: NOAA, Georgia Coastal Management Program, City of Tybee Island, Georgia Southern University