A riparian area is the green zone around a lake or any wetland. It is the thread of vegatation that will border a river, stream or valley.
A riparian area produces forage, shelter, fish, wildlife and water. These areas area buffer, or an insurance which is very useful when a drought or flood occurs. They are part of a healthy, functioniong landscape and form an extensive watershed. Riparian areas sustain us, our lifestyles and our business.
You may ask, why has the use of riparian areas become a concern? Nearly 40 years of research by range managers, biologists, and hydrologists have shown us the value of riparian areas for forage production, maintenance of fish and wildlife populations and providing water to sustain human communities. There is also a growing awareness of these values by livestock producers as well. Riparian areas have significant importance, they are different from uplands and need to be managed differently. By ignoring or avoiding problems, we only allow the problem to get worse. Today in Alberta, society has a growing awareness of the value and vulnerability of riparian areas. There are many good reasons to begin to address riparian area management problems now.
-healthy riparian areas present an opportunity to sustain your operation and possibly generate more income because abundant water, shelter and forage translate into cash.
-well managed riparian areas buffer destructive impacts of floods and droughts, espescially when combined with efforts of your neighbors on a watershed basis.
-maintenance of productive riparian areas display good stewardship of shared resources like water, fish and wildlife. Maintaining this helps create friends and allies for your agricultural operation.
-voluntary efforts, which include riparian management in farm and ranch operations may help to contribute to further incentives.
-a healthy productive riparian area can be a powerful tool in persuading decision makers that public grazing is managed.
As managers and livestock operators, the choice is ours. There are many examples in Alberta and from other areas where working together with neighbours and resource managers has resulted in positive change and benefits.
Unmanaged Managed Grazing
Grazing on creek on creek Excerpts from Caring for the Green Zone