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Precision riparian buffers for the control of nonpoint source pollutant loading into surface water: A review

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Numerous studies have shown the effectiveness of riparian buffers in reducing sediment, pathogen, and nutrient loads into surface and groundwater in agricultural catchments. Reported retention rates of sediment, N, and P were as high as 97%, 85%, and 84%, respectively. Often, however, riparian buffers fail to perform their protective functions due to low adaptability of their designs to local settings. This is caused by our inadequate understanding of the conditions under which riparian buffers perform the best at field scale. Therefore, a precision oriented approach based on thorough analysis of spatially variable characteristics of landscape has to be undertaken in riparian buffer construction. Such an approach has a potential to improve the protective qualities and the economic viability of the riparian buffers. This paper gives an overview of the current level of research on riparian buffers and discusses the importance of spatial variability of local conditions on their performance. It presents the approaches for precision buffer design and its practical implementation and highlights the directions for future development of precision conservation. Key words: riparian buffer, vegetative filter, water quality, precision conservation.

De nombreuses études ont démontré l'efficacité des tampons riverains pour réduire les problèmes de sédimentation, de maladies et d'eutrophisation dans les eaux de surface et souterraines, par captage en milieux agricoles. On rapporte des taux de rétention des sédiments et du N et P aussi élevés que 96 %, 85 % et 84 %, respectivement. Cependant, il arrive souvent que les tampons riverains n'exercent pas leurs fonctions protectrices, vu la faible adaptabilité de leurs concepts aux conditions locales. Ceci provient d'une compréhension inadéquate des conditions sous lesquelles ces tapons riverains fonctionnent le mieux, à l'échelle du terrain. Conséquemment, il faut utiliser une approche orientée sur la précision, basée sur des analyses complètes des caractéristiques des variables du paysage, avant d'entreprendre la construction de tels tampons riverains. Cette approche pourrait améliorer les qualités de protection et économiques des tampons riverains. Les auteurs présentent une revue de l'intensité actuelle de la recherche sur les tampons riverains, et discutent l'importance de la variabilité spatiale et des conditions locales qui conditionnent leurs performances. On présente les approches nécessaires pour concevoir et mettre en place des tampons de précision, et on suggère les directions à prendre pour continuer le développement de la conservation de précision. Mots clés : tampon riverain, filtre végétal, qualité de l'eau, conservation de précision.[Traduit par la rédaction]

Keywords: riparian buffer, vegetative filter, water quality, precision conservation, tampon riverain, filtre végétal, qualité de l'eau, conservation de précision

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2005

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  • Published since 1993, this annual electronic-only journal presents authoritative reviews on a wide range of environmental science and associated environmental studies topics, with emphasis on the effects on and response of both natural and manmade ecosystems to anthropogenic stress. The authorship and scope are international, with critical reviews submitted and invited on such topics as climate change, harvesting impacts, acid rain, pesticide use, lake acidification, air and marine pollution, ecology of oil spills, biological control, food chain biomagnification, rehabilitation of polluted aquatic systems, erosion, agroforestry, and bio-indicators of environmental stress.
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