What are riparian areas?

These are strips of green vegetation around creeks, wetlands, sloughs, rivers and lakes. They are important for:

  • agriculture
  • biodiversity
  • clean water
  • fish and wildlife habitat
  • flood resilience

Functions of riparian areas

Healthy riparian areas help conserve soil, maintain water quality, and support wildlife habitat values while providing forage resources. Their functions include:

  • building and maintaining banks and shores
  • contributing to forage and browse resources
  • filtering and buffering water
  • maintaining biodiversity
  • recharging aquifers
  • reducing energy created by a water body (for example, stream flow and lake waves)
  • storing water and energy
  • trapping and storing sediment

Support documents and assessment tools

Further information on riparian areas and riparian health can be found at:

Promoting healthy riparian areas

Alberta Environment and Parks and the Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society (Cows and Fish) work together to promote healthy, sustainably managed riparian areas.

For more information, visit: Cows and Fish – Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society: Riparian Health. On this website, you can find:

  • riparian health assessment information
  • riparian health assessment workbooks
  • riparian health inventory forms
  • user manuals for streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands and sloughs

How you can help

Riparian health assessment field workbooks are available on the Cows and Fish website. These workbooks allow landowners to easily determine the health of their riparian areas and are useful as an education tool for resource managers.

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