Riparian Forest Buffer Design and Maintenance



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Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forest Service


Riparian forest buffers (RFBs) are essential components of maintaining long-term stream and watershed health and resilience in the Chesapeake Bay region. RFBs also provide valuable ecological functions for wildlife habitat and biodiversity. This guide has been prepared as a resource to the many who wish to establish a forest buffer efficiently, effectively, and with a minimum of maintenance. The best way to minimize maintenance is to do an excellent job designing the planting and preparing the site. Ask most foresters how you should plant a buffer site, and you'll most likely hear, "Well, it depends". It depends on the landowner's objectives, site and soil conditions, prior land use, adjacent land use, budget, available labor, and acceptable levels of risk. This guide is meant to help match these circumstances with suitable techniques designed to avoid or minimize some common problems. It is no substitute for years of experience, but should help speed the learning curve. Developing a buffer plan will include making choices about: Purpose of the buffer; Site preparation steps; Species choices; Density/Spacing of trees and shrubs; Post-planting protection; Maintenance tasks and timing. Information to help guide choices follows. Checklists are included in Appendix A and B to record choices and suggested steps.


60 pages; available for download at the link below.


forest buffer, Chesapeake Bay, riparian forests, water quality, buffer zones