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Wagonga Inlet Living Shoreline

Design guidance for the natural environment

Project proponents: Eurobodalla Shire Council, The Nature Conservancy and NSW Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries

Location: Intertidal land on the foreshore of Wagonga Inlet, Narooma. Eurobodalla local government area / Yuin Country

Coastal management area(s): Coastal environment area and coastal use area

The Wagonga Inlet Living Shoreline project proposes to restore the foreshore and nearby estuary environments in Narooma. The project area borders a Habitat Protection Zone within Batemans Marine Park, which provides habitat for threatened and migratory species.

The project aims to improve recreational amenity and adapt to coastal hazards in a way that protects and enhances local ecosystems.

The project will replace a failing rock revetment wall and informal access points with a 'living shoreline'. This will consist of a reshaped bank, revegetated shoreline and elevated boardwalk, jetty and pontoon. The project will also restore an oyster reef, rehabilitate saltmarsh and plant vegetation.

Coastal Design Guidelines application

This case study shows how you can apply chapter 4.2 'Design guidance for the natural environment' from the  NSW Coastal Design Guidelines 2023 (PDF, 9.2 MB).


Objective 4.2.1: Base considerations on a hierarchy of landform, then landscape, then built form

By using an elevated, permeable walkway, the project will accommodate natural and dynamic coastal processes. By reshaping and re-naturalising the foreshore, the project will also reinforce natural landforms and restore ecological integrity.

Objective 4.2.2: Protect and enhance water quality, hydrological systems and coastal processes

Upgrading existing stormwater infrastructure to introduce gross pollutant traps will improve water quality outcomes in the marine park. Foreshore re-naturalisation will support natural coastal processes.

Objective 4.2.3: Identify, protect and enhance sensitive coastal ecosystems and threatened ecological communities

Granite platforms and steps, as well as a raised walkway, will formalise access to the popular Narooma Flats area while minimising how much people disturb saltmarsh areas. Using mesh for the walkway will reduce shading of saltmarsh and seagrass areas. 

The project will also involve restoring the foreshore significantly. This will include restoring intertidal and subtidal oyster reefs, planting vegetation, and expanding and connecting existing saltmarsh areas. The design allows for saltmarsh gradually migrating upslope in response to sea level rise.

Objective 4.2.4: Ensure that the natural coastal environment is integrated into built coastal environments

The project will restore and emphasise the presence of the natural foreshore. It will involve significant replanting with propagation material that is common locally and seed from Wagonga Inlet.

Objective 4.2.5: Use nature-based solutions as the first option to address environmental challenges, avoiding hard engineering solutions where possible

The project will replace an existing rock revetment with a re-naturalised zone of saltmarsh, a vegetated buffer and some areas of granite armour stone.

This design adopts many of the principles from the Environmentally Friendly Seawalls guideline. It will maximise the use of riparian and estuarine vegetation, adopt a low slope, and create habitat diversity and complexity. This will include benches and steps that can provide vertical and horizontal habitat.

Banner image credit:  Wagonga Inlet Design Team - Nicole Larkin Design, REALMstudies, ShortPants Consulting, Royal Haskoning DHV