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What is a “Riparian zone”?

The “riparian zone” is the area of direct interactions between land and water ecosystems. There are many terms that have been used to describe riparian areas including:


• Wetlands.

• Buffer zones.

• Estuary margins.

The riparian zone is an important zone for land and water interactions since most water runoff must pass over or through the soil and vegetation of this zone before it reaches the adjacent water body. Therefore significant environmental benefits can be obtained for a reasonable cost by improving the riparian zone with additional planting.

Riparian areas have a crucial influence on water quality, especially due to light and temperature, as well as flows. Riparian zones act as buffers which moderate the adverse effects of adjacent land uses on stream, lake or estuarine systems

Riparian zones also provide important habitat for fish, insects and birds in the streams and surrounding land.

Benefits of planting the Riparian zone

  • Improved water quality.
  • Reduce stream water temperatures.
  • Increase oxygen levels in the water.
  • Increase water clarity.
  • Reducing peaks and prolonging flows of flood waters.
  • Improve biodiversity – trees, insects, whitebait, eels, birds.
  • Improve aquatic and terrestrial habitat quality and diversity in the catchment as a whole.
  • Provide wind protection.
  • Improve recreational amenity value.
  • Improve aesthetic value of a beautiful landscape.

Get involved!

The animals and plants of Tōtaranui need your help now!