What Factors Affect Riparian Restoration Success

22 December, 2015

Riparian restoration is a process of restoring stream banks through weed control, animal pest control and revegetation.  It also involves the fencing out of livestock while planting trees along its stream to create buffer zones.

Streams are integral to the land, so important that New Zealand have undertaken riparian restoration projects in an attempt to reverse land use impact to its waterways.

It takes a considerable amount of time to be able to see the benefits of doing riparian restoration. Riparian restoration is a delicate process and it’s essential to check several key restoration procedures, such as:

● channel instability
● aquatic habitat development
● alleviation of water pollutants
● improvement of aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity

Riparian restoration is a project that most people choose to undertake themselves. But to ensure success, it’s important to be knowledgeable in all aspects of riparian planting; not just in the planning and implementation, but also with monitoring and maintenance.

Common Riparian Restoration Mistakes

Often times, the failure of restoration projects or difficulty in maintaining these projects stem from these common mistakes:

a. Unplanned land activity
Land activity is also crucial in the planning and development of riparian restoration. What happens upstream can affect the results of your riparian restoration downstream. And your restoration efforts can affect the land activity or use of your neighbors downstream. Coordinating with your neighbors on land use is needed to control external factors that could affect the success of your planting and restoration efforts.

b. Improper fencing and buffer system
An effective riparian restoration also involves good fencing to minimize livestock access and the prevent possible contaminants from entering the area. In 2000 alone, New Zealand had assessed nine riparian management schemes to see to it that proper fencing is used for its restoration. The buffer zones of these nine restoration projects had been fenced and has planted the necessary crops for a specific period, from a minimum of 2 years to a maximum of 24.

c. Weeds not controlled
Weed control is an important aspect in riparian restoration since it reduces competition among plants, reduces cover for pest (particularly meadow voles), and it makes for easy inspection. It also provides pathways for native species to colonize the stream.

d. Using the wrong plant species
Native plants endemic to streams contribute to biodiversity and creates a sustainable ecosystem for the species that dependent on the area.  In most cases, when the wrong plants are used, they would not thrive. In some cases, they might encourage the growth of invasive plant and animal species which could be detrimental to the riparian system.

Riparian Restoration Monitoring

Landowners should also look into the sustainability when investing in riparian restoration. Professional monitoring and maintenance can help insure this. You should keep in mind certain aspects of the restoration that might prove costly if unplanned or unchecked.

● Check to see if there are enough plants to filter the water – The main reason for riparian restoration is to reinvigorate your streams. The native plants should be able to filter and hold enough water to restore soil viability and create a sustainable ecosystem. Regular weed control is also important to encourage plant growth and prevent the weeds from choking down native trees and bushes.

● Should provide shade as well – This is a unique benefit for riparian restoration. It provides shade to your streams to shelter insects, fishes and other endemic animals, helping them thrive and minimizing the impact brought about by climate change

● Should provide habitat for land animals – Growing the right plants for your riparian restoration will provide provide shelter to endemic animals while providing them easy access to safe water.

● Check to see if the plants are thriving – Proper fencing and agreements with neighbors and shareholder to protect your plants from stock can help ensure that your You can do your own riparian planting and restoration, but the safest way to do so is with the help of a professional. With the help of a riparian restoration expert, you will be assured of the inherent recreational, environmental and developmental benefits of doing riparian restoration.  They will assist you on how to plan and implement your riparian planting for you to have better waterways as well as a sustainable wetland in the process

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