Riparian Areas (shorelines)

What is Riparian Habitat?

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.

Contact Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship to learn more about riparian habitats on your property and in your community and get involved in their conservation!