It's important that we care for our waterways and one of the most important ways to do this is to protect the riparian or riverbank area.
Excessive riverbank erosion leads to the loss of farmland and degradation of water quality and habitats. As a result there is a rapid decline in the ecological, recreational and scenic values of the waterway.
The riparian zone
The riparian zone is the strip of land beside rivers and streams. It can be as narrow as a few metres or as wide as several hundred metres depending on the geology, soils, water levels and adjacent land use.
The riparian zone protects the waterway by filtering run-off from land and helping to prevent sediment and nutrients from entering the water. It also contributes to the overall quality of the waterway by reducing erosion and providing habitat for animals.
Effective riparian zones consist of healthy vegetation cover including ground covering plants and larger trees. When this is combined with good land management, flooding and erosion can be decreased.
How you can improve the riverbank
There are several ways riverbanks can be improved to protect and maintain our waterways. Here's a few tips:
- Manage the existing vegetation so it provides protection for fish and bird life but allows natural flooding to occur without causing damage.
- Avoid over-stocking along waterways.
- Provide stock with water away from the waterway so they don’t wander through the waterway.
- Quality fencing will keep stock away from vulnerable areas and will allow vegetation to regenerate.
For information to help improve your riverbank, read the Streamside Planting Guide.