A simple definition of a Riparian Zone is the area or corridor where land and water meet. It is a zone of transition for vegetation and an important environmental area for flora, fauna and increasingly erosion control.
Where do we find riparian zones.
A range of areas where wet areas are found go to make up Riparian zones and corridors, these include :
- On the edges of lakes
- Beside rivers and streams
- Surrounding wetland areas that are subject to seasonal flooding
- On the edges of swamps
- In gullies where permanent water may not be present however dampness creates suitable conditions.
As riparian zones are often the most fertile and productive land they are also subject to over use.
Used for cropping, large areas have been cleared, destroying wildlife habitat and over time leading to land degradation and erosion.
Why Riparian Zones require management.
It would be simple to say that riparian zones require management to provide habitat for wildlife. However erosion control is of even greater importance in terms of long term land management.
Erosion control in conjunction with planting to improve water quality by filtering sediment before it reaches waterways are two major issues in these areas.
Vegetation in Riparian zones varies greatly.
Sedges, grasses, trees, shrubs and ferns are all included and vary depending on the location of the zone.
Why are Riparian Corridors Important?
These areas act as a transition zone between waterways and other land use. A well maintained Riparian corridor will greatly decrease erosion and improve water quality both in the immediate area as well as downstream.
Advantages of good management of riparian zones
- Erosion Control
- Provide wildlife habitat
- Reduction of nutrient flow to waterways which can assist in prevention of algae.
- Improved habitat for fish
- Improved land value
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