Riparian Zone

2672 Words 11 Pages
The role of riparian zones cannot be understated in relation to water quality and wildlife habitat. A riparian zone refers to stream bank system, including the stream, soils, flora, and fauna within it. Riparian buffers, specifically, are one of the most significant structures to implement along streams and rivers because of the structure’s many functions and abilities. Riparian buffer zones act as a canopy to shade and cool stream temperatures, as a filter strip to attenuate sediment, pollutant, and nutrient runoff, and as a wildlife habitat, all wrapped into one. Riparian buffers also act as corridors, connecting one forest segment to another, which aids in the movement of migratory wildlife and those with larger home ranges. To explore …show more content…
Both microhabitat and macrohabitat characteristics were observed and analyzed. To understand how forested buffers affect microhabitat, Kelly explains that leaf litter from trees are the basis of the soil and substrate of the forest buffer floor. Macroinvertebrates, generally insects, depend on the leaf litter as a food source and decompose it. The insects then feed the fish, and other wildlife in turn eat the fish. Reforestation also provides a food source and shelter for wildlife species including beavers, otters, birds, bats, reptiles, and amphibians, and vertical cover is critical for species like deer and bobcats. Thus, reforestation creates a chain effect in reestablishing microhabitats. (Kelly, …show more content…
However, the benefits far outweigh the negatives, as they promote much-needed habitat for wildlife, which is the central reason for establishing the buffers. Creating habitat for wildlife is valuable in numerous ways; animals help maintain ecosystem balances, provide opportunities for recreation, including hunting, fishing, photography, education, and simply viewing. Wildlife also has inherent value, and because human influence is the leading cause for habitat degradation, humans owe it to wildlife to restore as much suitable habitat as possible, and much of this starts with riparian buffers and corridors. Welsch’s model, as seen in Figure 1, along with the recommendations based on information from studies conducted are a good framework for implementing more riparian buffers across the country, but there is still much left to be considered and more progress to be made. However, by continuing the progress made by agencies like the IDNR and the United States Forest Service, more cooperation can ultimately be reached and a more widespread establishment of buffers and corridors will be beneficial to wildlife and humans

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