forests are wooded buffer zones along streams, creeks,
lakes, and rivers. They are classified by the plant species, soils and
hydrology of the area.
These special forested communities protect waterways from intensive
land use practices such as timber harvesting, cattle grazing, or agricultural
production. Riparian forests filter nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus;
well as sediment from erosion processes
and minimize the amounts of these pollutants reaching the watercourse.
Tree roots stabilize stream banks and slow water velocities in times
of high water allowing sediments to be deposited.
Riparian forests are some of the most diverse wildlife habitats on
earth. They provide a wide array of wildlife needs including: food,
water, cover, and space. Many riparian forests connect adjacent blocks
of timber and naturally become wildlife
travel corridors. Many aquatic fish
species prefer to live in forested environments where insects and cover
are readily available.
Many acres of riparian forests have been lost to development and intensive
land use practices in the past. It is the goal of forest managers, to
protect and re-establish riparian forest buffers where they once stood.
One way in which riparian forest buffers are being established is though
the planting of riparian species. Bare-root seedlings in a variety of
buffer species can be purchased from your local forestry office or extension
service. Many conservation easements also exist which can
help with the cost of seedlings and planting. To see how to plant a
bare-root seedling please click here!
To learn more about riparian forests visit the Virginia Department
of Forestry’s website on riparian forest buffers at www.dof.virginia.gov/rfb/rfb-intro.shtml.
- Where are riparian forests?
- Do riparian forest minimize pollutants in water?
- Do riparian forests provide diverse wildlife habitats?