Riparian Buffers

From Salish Sea Wiki
(Redirected from Riparian Buffer Function)

Wiki Rules

Link to List of Workgroups Link to List of Topics Link to List of Places

Link to List of Efforts Link to List of Products Link to List of Documents Link to List of Graphics Link to List of Websites

Link to Delta Sites Link to Embayment Sites Link to Beach Sites Link to Rocky Headland Sites

Link to Headwater Sites Link to Lowland Watershed Sites Link to Floodplain Sites

Riparian buffers are a legal designation of land around a stream or river, where the condition of that land is regulated to protect the stream or river. Riparian buffers are proscribed in a wide range of federal, state, and local laws, such as the Endangered Species Act and Shoreline Management Act, and are an important concern of Tribal Governments seeking to protect treaty rights. Contention around who controls the condition of buffers and who pays for restoration have been a long-standing source of conflict between rights-holders, and interest groups. A series of efforts, documents, and a lesser-known history of political negotiations are central to buffer regulation.

"To buffer" is an verb. A "buffer" is a regulatory designation of an area were management is changed near a stream to reduce the potential negative impacts of proximate land uses like forestry, agriculture or residential development. On the other hand, "riparian functions" are those dynamics observed in historical systems (i.e. evolved over long periods of time, and to which biota are adapted) that support biota directly or indirectly--many of these functions involve environmental buffering. Buffering functions are varied and complex, and could be divided into two general groups:

Washington Chronology[edit]


Buffer Function[edit]

Different authorities and analyses use different language and lump and split in different ways to describe the functions of buffers.

Geomorphic and bioenergetic processes:

  • Habitat islands or corridors for species that depend on rivers and streams
  • Habitat corridors for terrestrial species (that otherwise have no habitat due to development)
  • Shading effects on microclimate and stream temperature
  • Organic litter inputs to stream ecosystems
  • Large wood and rootwad effects of stream structure

Biochemical and water quality processes:

  • Nutrient and sediment removal and sequestration (in soils and biomass, with harvest providing removal)
  • Denitrification (as a nitrogen removal pathway) particularly in anaerobic soils.
  • Pathogen removal (livestock and pet waste).
  • Toxin decomposition and sequestration (pesticides, transportation runoff?)

Interesting Focused Efforts[edit]


Other Pages[edit]