Riparian Zones ("Corridors," "Buffers")

What is a “Riparian Zone?”

Riparian” refers to the area by the banks of a river, stream, or other body of water. A riparian zone is therefore a corridor or strip of land of a specified width along streams and waterways. For our CLEAR studies (see links below), we refer to these areas as riparian corridors or zones, but they are also frequently called riparian "buffers." However, this term should not be confused with the inland wetland and watercourse regulatory review zones administered by Connecticut towns, which are also often called "buffer zones."

Riparian zones with native vegetation and soils provide multiple functions and values. They are the first line of defense against the impacts of impervious surfaces (thus the frequent use of the term "buffer"!). Natural riparian areas slow runoff, protect shorelines from erosion, aid in flood control, and filter or trap pollutants. They also provide habitat and corridors for wildlife, as well as shade waters for fisheries enhancement. Additionally, intact riparian corridors may provide scenic value and recreational opportunities.

Riparian Studies

Statewide Riparian Corridors Analysis (Using 2006 Land Cover) Visit the Riparian Corridors Website

This part of CLEAR’s Connecticut’s Changing Landscape project looks at land cover and land cover change within riparian corridors of Connecticut. Riparian, or streamside, corridors are known to be environmentally important areas critical to stream stability, pollutant removal, and both aquatic and terrestrial wildlife habitat.

Coastal Riparian Buffers Analysis (Using 2002 land cover) Visit the Riparian Buffers Study Website

This project, conducted by CLEAR in 2005 and 2006 for the Long Island Sound Study (LISS) National Estuary Program, looked at land cover and land cover change within watersheds and riparian zones of coastal Connecticut (for the southern half of the state) using Connecticut’s Changing Landscape version 1 land cover data.

Riparian Resources

Barrett and Cleveland, 2009
A Planting Guide for Riparian Sites Along the Connecticut Coast

A publication containing information about coastal habitats, what buffers are, why they are important and how to construct your own riparian buffer.

Riparian Corridor Planting Guide

A guide and list of trees, shrubs, ferns grasss and other herbaceous plants that are appropriate for riparian areas.

Long Island Sound Riparian Toolbox

The objective of this project is to assemble existing materials that will be of use to local officials in drafting and implementing regulations to protect riparian areas.

CT River Riparian Mapping 2006

Information about an investigation that attempts to pull together both existing GIS data and field observations in an initial effort to produce a regional tool that can guide further resource protection - through the conservation of riparian buffers - in the CT River estuary.

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