In some places such as floodplains, trees and shrubs are unable to grow.  In these areas try to maintain the herbaceous or non-woody vegetation to reduce erosion.  To provide an effective filter it is important to maintain a riparian edge, or vegetated buffer, of native species along all waterways and around wetlands. Depending on your goals, the width of the setback (between the water and productive land) will vary.  The wider the setback, the more benefits are provided to both the riparian and aquatic ecosystems. The width will be dependent on your own personal goals; are you interested in improving habitat? Reducing sediment or nutrients in run-off? Improving bank stability? The following table provides a list of the benefits that result from different buffer widths.

Example of a riparian buffer. The setback is measured from the water’s edge to the edge of land used productively–in this example the buffer contains a vegetated buffer and a grassy strip.

There are different things that you can do to maintain the health of your riparian areas.  Click on the menu below for more information regarding practices, information and relevant legislation.

Vegetated Buffer

A vegetated buffer refers to the area immediately adjacent to a wetland or watercourse that is filled with diverse natural vegetation, from grasses to shrubs to trees.

Leaving (or actively planting) woody native plants, within the buffer will help to increase the stream bank’s stability. The roots of the plants will help to keep the soil in its place, and will help to slow any run-off from adjacent crops from entering the water course.

Suggested Plants for Upper Stream Banks

  • Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga Canadensis)
  • Red Spruce (Picea rubens)
  • Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)
  • American Beech (Fagus grandifolia)
  • Red Oak *plant in light shade (Quercus rubra)
  • Canada Yew (Ground Hemlock) (Taxus canadensis)
  • Beaked Hazelnut (Corylus cornuta)
  • Wild Raisin (Witherod) (Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides)
  • White Pine (Pinus strobus)
  • Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea)
  • Striped Maple (Acer pensylvanicum)
  • Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis)
  • White Ash*plant in light shade (Fraxinus americana)
  • American Fly Honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis)
  • Witch Hazel (Hamamelus virginiana)

Suggested Plants for Lower Stream Banks

The following list is derived from the guide: “Beneficial Management Practices for Riparian Zones in the Atlantic“.

Wet Areas with Full Sunlight

  • Black Spruce (Picea mariana)
  • Eastern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis)
  • Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)
  • American Elm (Ulmus americanum)
  • Wild Raisin (Witherod) (Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides)
  • Red-osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea ssp. sericea)
  • Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
  • Large-toothed Aspen (Populus grandidentata)
  • Eastern Larch (Tamarack) (Larix laricina)
  • Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
  • White Ash (Fraxinus americana)
  • Willow (Salix sp.)
  • Common Elder (Sambucus nigra ssp. Canadensis)
  • Speckled Alder (Alnus incana)
  • American Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana)
  • Mountain Holly (Nemopanthus mucronatus

Wet areas with Partial Shade

  • Striped Maple (Moose Maple) (Acer pensylcanicum)
  • Yellow Birsh (Betula alleghaniensis)
  • Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
  • Wild Raisin (Witherod) (Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides)
  • Common Elder (Sambucus nigra ssp. Canadensis)
  • Eastern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis)
  • Mountain Maple (Acer spicatum)
  • Iron Wood (Hop-Hornbeam) (Ostrya virginiana)
  • Mountain Holly (Nemopanthus mucronatus)
  • Beaked Hazelnut (Corylus conuta)
  • Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)

Dry Areas with Full Sunlight

  • White Spruce (Picea glauca)
  • Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea)
  • White Birch (Betula papyrfera)
  • Grey Birch (Betula populifolia)
  • White Ash (Fraxinus americana)
  • Balsam Poplar (Populus balsamifera)
  • Pin Cherry (Prunus pensylvanica)
  • Choke Cherry (Prunus virginana)
  • Red-berried Elder(Sambucus racemosa)
  • Hawthorn (Crateagus sp.)
  • American Mountain Ash (Sorbus Americana)
  • Specled Alder (Alnus incana)
  • Sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina)
  • Northern Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica)
  • Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana)
  • Red Pine (Pinus resinosa)
  • Apple (Malus sp.)
  • Red Oak (Quercus rubra)
  • Trembling Aspen (Populus tremuloides)
  • Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum opulus var. americanum)
  • Serviceberry (Shadbush, Wild Pear, Saskatoon berry) (Amelanchier sp.)
  • Common Elder (Sambucus nigra spp. canadensis)
  • Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)
  • Wild Rose (Rosa sp.)
  • Wild Raisin (Witherod) (Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides)
  • Mountain Alder (Alnus crispa)