The permanent, vegetated strip adjacent to streams, lakes, ponds and wetlands is streamside or riparian buffer. This buffer is a natural ecosystem that consists of native trees, shrubs, vines and other plants.
Beyond adding beauty to the landscape, streamside buffers have many benefits:
- falling leaves and twigs provide food, nutrients, and habitat for fish and aquatic organisms.
- deep and extensive roots of native plants and trees keep the soil porous and absorbent, which slows down and absorbs storm water, reducing impacts of flooding.
- stream banks are stabilized and protected from erosion as a dense root system helps hold sediment in place.
- the vegetation within the buffers helps to filter out pollutants transported by storm water, keeping it from entering the waterway.
- shade from the trees keeps stream water cooler. Cold water carries more dissolved oxygen which is of great benefit to aquatic animals.
- tree roots under the water provide safe places for feeding, breeding, and nesting habitat for fish.
Here are a few examples submitted from properties across Pennsylvania: