What is a Riparian Buffer?

A Riparian Buffer is a vegetated area along a stream which helps to take up excess nutrients that would otherwise flow into a stream, and filter out pollutants before they reach the waterway. Forested streams have been found to remove two to eight times more nitrogen pollution than non- forested segments.

A Riparian Buffer is usually associated with streams that flow through farm lands. However, Riparian Buffers can be found in urban areas. Take for instance, a large non porous parking lot adjacent to a stream and or drainage swales. Installing a Riparian Buffer will not only look nice, shade the cars that park under them, they will also serve a very important purpose to the quality of water by absorbing pollutants that would normally run offer the surface of the parking lot.

Benefits of Streamside Tree Plantings (also called “Riparian Buffers”)

Properly planted and maintained streamside tree plantings can:

reduce nutrient and pesticide runoff into water bodies by up to 50% or more
reduce sediment deposits into streams by up to 75%
reduce pathogen (disease causing organisms) deposits into streams by up to 60%
control erosion of soil by wind and rain
improve water quality
improve water infiltration into groundwater
reduce the likelihood of downstream flooding
cool stream temperatures
improve fish habitat
Listed below are some interesting websites:

Stroud Water Research Center
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay