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A NATIVE APPROACH TO PENNSYLVANIA LANDSCAPES

Riparian buffers consist of trees, shrubs, and/or other perennial plants. They are located by streams, lakes, or wetlands and provide a variety of benefits including:

  • Maintaining the health of our waterways;
  • Riparian forests act as filters for the sediments and pollutants from farm fields, residential lawns, and roadways to help keep them from reaching the water;
  • Helping provide shade and partial protection from the impact of adjacent land uses;
  • Increasing water quality in nearby streams, rivers, and lakes, while helping to reduce pollution;
  • Provide stream and creek bank stabilization;
  • Aiding in reversing the decline of aquatic ecosystems due to agricultural use of adjacent lands

KEY BENEFITS

Newly installed plants and trees next to a creek
  • Helping to reduce erosion, stabilize stream banks, while filtering sediments and pollution;
  • Aid in moderating water temperatures by providing shade
  • Providing habitat for invertebrates, fish, and other wildlife
  • Creating natural water storage and reducing flooding
  • Provide wildlife habitat
  • Create wildlife and pollinator travel areas

Our Approach Is Better!

Conventional Buffer vs. Multifunctional Riparian Buffer

While conventional buffers are able to provide the typical benefits such as filtration of runoff, stabilization of stream and creek banks, erosion reduction, etc., multifunctional buffers are designed to give the landowner more functional use of the buffer by including native fruits, nuts, and some non-invasive domestic fruit crops.  This creates a more multifunctional / recreational aspect in addition to all the ecological benefits of a  riparian buffer.

With this concept, the buffer is separated into zones.

Zone 1:
Unmanaged
Forest

Approximately 15 feet from the stream edge is unmanaged forest, planted with native riparian species. Suitable plants would include native species that can thrive or tolerate wet soil conditions such as river birch, sycamore, swamp white oak, red osier dogwood, and black willow.

Zone 2:
Managed Fruit and Nut Trees and Shrubs

The permanent vegetation in zone 2 helps with soaking up and storing nutrients, slowing floodwaters, and breaking down pesticides that may have been applied to the uphill land.

Some examples of plants that are suitable for this space are elderberry, serviceberry, chokeberry, raspberry, highbush blueberry, persimmon, pawpaw, black walnut, and American hazelnut.

Zone 3:
Managed Woody Florals and Forbs

Zone 3 can extend 50 or more feet from the end of zone 2. This is the first line of defense to intercept sediment and nutrient runoffs from farms, developments, and lawns, etc.

Plantings can be edible, used as biofuel, or have aesthetic qualities, and are not necessarily required to be native (as long as they are not invasive). Some examples of plants include dogwood, pussy willow, quince, witch hazel, hydrangea, perennial wildflowers, and warm and cool season grasses.

A graphical view of forest products

Conventional Buffer vs. Multifunctional Riparian Buffer

Large scale riparian buffers

These are the areas adjacent to waterways, and typically include a combination of trees, shrubs, and/or other perennial plants.  These buffer zones are managed differently than the surrounding landscape, with the goal to provide a host of conservation benefits.

Backyard buffers

They can also provide the same benefits, only on a smaller scale.  These benefits are targeted at homeowners, aiding them in the protection of nearby aquatic environments, as well as providing pollinator-friendly native grasses and perennials as well as native trees and shrubs which can also provide fruits, nuts, aesthetics, and function to the backyard.  This type of “homeowner conservation” often results in higher property values, while helping to protect and preserve these natural buffer zones.

Why is our approach more successful for project establishment?

We use large container stock (#3 container)

Why? The reasons include, but are not limited to:

  • Working with established root systems by starting with larger product (typically more productive than working with stakes and shelters);
  • Larger container stock is usually more tolerant of wildlife, and is better resistant to flood damage;
  • Working with larger container stock means “instant gratification” for land- and homeowners, requiring less maintenance, while establishing more quickly;
  • Quicker buffer function establishment with less maintenance / stewardship than shelter sites;
  • Although upfront cost may be higher, long term expenses are less than beginning with shelters.

Better Results. Faster!

A green arrow pointing to the right

WE HAVE MORE REASONS TO GO THE CONSERVATION ROUTE. WE'D LOVE TO SHOW HOW YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

WE HAVE MORE REASONS
TO GO THE CONSERVATION
ROUTE. WE'D LOVE TO SHOW
HOW YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

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