Along the shores of lakes, wetlands and streams there is a buffer or fringe of plants that is called "riparian". This area is a transition zone between the aquatic environment and the drier upland environment. Riparian zones support moisture-loving plants including cottonwood, willow, red-osier dogwood and wild rose.
Since the 1800s, 73% of riparian ecosystems have been lost due to agricultural, urban and suburban settlement and development and the channelization of the Okanagan River.
Why is Riparian Habitat Important?
- Riparian plants help keep water clean by trapping sediment and pollutants.
- Roots of riparian trees and shrubs stabilize streambanks and help control erosion which could result in a loss of land.
- Riparian habitats act as flood control during high stream flows.
- 60% or BC's terrestrial vertebrates at risk use riparian habitat for all or part of their habitat needs.