“A riparian zone or riparian area is the interface between land and a river or stream. Some regions use the terms riparian woodland, riparian forest, riparian buffer zone, or riparian strip, they are all used to characterize a riparian zone. The word “riparian” is derived from Latin ripa, meaning river bank.”
Because of the meandering curves of a river, combined with vegetation and root systems, stream energy is dissipated, which results in less soil erosion and a reduction in flood damage. Sediment becomes trapped, reducing suspended solids to create less turbid water, it also replenishes soils, and builds stream banks.
The riparian zones also provide wildlife habitat, increased biodiversity, and wildlife corridors, enabling aquatic and riparian organisms to move along river systems, thereby avoiding isolated or segmented natural communities.
Did you know …
- …that the flow of water through riparian soils regenerates ground water?
- …that riparian vegetation can remove excess nutrients and sediment from surface runoff and shallow ground water? And that riparian vegetation shades streams to optimize light and temperature conditions for aquatic plants, fish, and other animals?
- …that riparian areas provide important habitat for many endangered and threatened species and other wildlife and plants?
- …that although riparian ecosystems generally occupy small areas on the landscape, they are usually more diverse and have more plants and animals than adjacent upland areas?
- …that in the western United States, riparian areas comprise less than 1 percent of the land area, but they are among the most productive and valuable natural resources.
- Riparian areas help control nonpoint source pollution by holding and using nutrients and reducing sediment.
- Riparian areas supply food, cover, and water for a large diversity of animals and serve as migration routes and stopping points between habitats for a variety of wildlife.
- Trees and grasses in riparian habitat stabilize streambanks and reduce floodwater velocity, resulting in reduced downstream flood peaks.
The riparian ecosystem is one that is enjoyed by animals and humans alike. Yet it is humans that cause all of the damage to these corridors. In partnership with a number of other non-profits, governmental agencies and for profit restoration and engineering firms, Wildlife Heritage Foundation is helping conserve and restore some of these degraded habitats.
To learn about our signature event Calling Back the Salmon Celebration, which focuses on the health of Auburn Ravine, please visit www.callingbackthesalmoncelebration.org today.
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