What is a Streamside Forest or Riparian Forest Buffer?

A riparian buffer is an area of vegetation that is maintained along the shore of a water body to protect stream channels and banks. Buffers can reduce the pollutants entering a stream, lake or pond by trapping, filtering and converting sediments, nutrients and other chemicals in runoff from surrounding lands.

Forested riparian buffers (or streamside forests) are riparian buffers with a functional forest ecosystem. Forested buffers are the most beneficial type of buffer because they provide water quality and ecological benefits, including food, cover and protection from temperature changes for fish and wildlife.

Reproduced courtesy of and developed by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay under a grant from the Pennsylvania Nonpoint Source Management Program, Pennsylvania  Department of Environmental Protection ( DEP). Funding was provided by DEP through Section 319 of the Federal Clean Water Act administered by the Environmental Protection Agency – www.dep.state.pa.us/See&hear/streamreleaf/Stream_Releaf.htm.