Statewide Shoreline Monitoring Framework


New York State encourages the use of living shorelines - or natural/nature-based features (NNBF)- to enhance resiliency in locations where they are determined appropriate alternatives to traditional shoreline armoring. NNBF offer opportunities to reduce risk from flooding and erosion while also being more adaptable to changing conditions and providing additional benefits such as habitat for fish and wildlife. However, insufficient information exists regarding the effectiveness of NNBF compared to more traditional approaches, lacking a standard methodology and long-term observation.  This does not allow for comparative analysis of the performance and benefits of varying shoreline treatments. The Department of State (DOS) launched a multiphase effort known as the “Statewide Shoreline Monitoring Framework” initiative to provide clear and consistent information to those planning projects to improve their shoreline resiliency. The main objective of this initiative is to help decision makers determine which benefits are realized at shoreline sites and to relate that to the treatment option that was applied at that site.

The project is being undertaken in phases, reflecting the desire to learn from early application and “fine-tune” the protocols to enhance their ease of use.  The Phase I work, sponsored by DOS, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA),  resulted in standardized shoreline monitoring protocols for NYS – an important first step in developing useful long-term data. DOS recently finalized Phase II, which was completed by Gomez and Sullivan Engineers and a team of consultants. The Phase II work focused on streamlining the Phase I protocols, making data collection more efficient, and developing an online data management system. A major deliverable of the Phase II work included an online data collection portal (ArcGIS Online Data Management System), where users can view all collected data in one central location. In addition, the Phase I field observation forms were updated from paper worksheets to  more accessible digital applications so that data collectors can upload their data in real time. The Phase II protocols are available by request (so that DOS can track usage and provide support) and are considered the most up-to-date version of the monitoring protocols.


Throughout the development of the framework, the intention was to make the report and associated protocols andfield worksheets/applications accessible to a wide range of potential user groups.  The primary audiences are private, non-governmental organizations, and public sector shoreline managers in New York State. Shoreline managers include anyone who is involved in the implementation or management of NYS shorelines and who has access to sites for monitoring and a need for the resulting data.  


 The development of the Phase I Monitoring Framework was jointly managed by DOS with a grant from NOAA and additional funding and support from NYSERDA. The effort, led by the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay and several partners, brought together a high-level literature review, technical expert working groups, regional stakeholder, regulatory, and advisory council input, and experience from one season of pilot field data collection at 16 sites across the State.  Robust stakeholder engagement was included throughout the process.



  • The Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay
  • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
  • New York City Department of Parks and Recreation
  • Consensus Building Institute
  • United States Forest Service – NYC Urban Field Station
  • Brooklyn College
  • New York Sea Grant
  • New York-New Jersey Harbor and Estuary Program
  • SCAPE Landscape Architecture
  • New York State Water Resources Institute/Cornell University

The intention of the Phase II effort for the Monitoring Framework was to identify opportunities for more efficiencies, upgrade the data management system, and make updates based on recommendations from the Phase I effort. Accordingly, the Phase II effort was led by a team of consultants with input from a Project Advisory Committee. Additional data was collected using the updated protocols at 7 sites in the Lake Ontario and Long Island region, 2 of which were new sites that hadn’t been monitored during the Phase I effort.

Monitoring Framework

Development and implementation of a monitoring framework involves a feedback loop consisting of an evaluation roadmap, monitoring protocols, data collection, analysis, and evaluation. This provides an opportunity to revisit or reassess elements of the framework over time.

  • Evaluation Roadmap: Establishes an agreed-upon set of performance parameters for shoreline features against which the performance of these features can be comparatively evaluated. These parameters can relate to specific metrics or indices that specify what you would measure to track achievement of, or progress towards, such parameters. For example, one of our protocols uses biological health and biodiversity as performance parameters, with multiple associated indicators/metrics. Indicators that are directly related to this performance parameter include plant species cover and abundance. These are determined by direct observation of native plant presence.
  • Monitoring Protocols: Agreed-upon methods for gathering comparable data about various shoreline features relevant to identified performance parameters and indicators/metrics. The framework allows for the selection, development, and prioritization of relevant monitoring protocols depending on the goal(s) of the person/team that is applying the framework. For example, many users that are familiar with monitoring shorelines may prioritize completing the ecosystem services protocols but may not have a strong interest in conducting the socio-economic protocols. While there are certain protocols that are reliant on one another, and therefore need to be completed at each site, there is no requirement to complete every protocol.
  • Data Collection: Includes collection of relevant long-term data sets by a network of monitoring partners and associated data management and access.
  • Analysis: Considers what was learned from what was observed.
  • Evaluation: Explores how the feature monitored performed relative to performance parameters and the services or benefits that the shoreline feature provided.

The final monitoring framework focuses on three resilience service areas or shoreline feature functions: (1) Ecological Function, (2) Hazard Mitigation/Structural Integrity, and (3) Socio- Economic factors. Through expert technical knowledge and heavy stakeholder engagement, the Phase I final performance parameters and indicators/metrics led to the development of 17 distinct monitoring protocols. As the Phase II effort was focused on streamlining the protocols, the final Phase II effort resulted in 13 protocols.  The performance parameters and indicators/metrics developed in Phase I for each protocol remain mostly unchanged from Phase II, with the exception of some of the socio-economic protocols.

Next Steps

Over time, as the framework is used and more data are collected, refinements can be made and trends in performance can be assessed. DOS Office of Planning, Development and Community Infrastructure intends to keep the Framework updated in accordance with lessons learned in the field, including providing support for additional data collection and refinement of the framework. To provide feedback, email [email protected] subject line: MONITORING.

Additional Information