Forest Buffers

Streamside trees and shrubs prevent pollution from entering waterways, stabilize stream banks, provide food and habitat to wildlife and keep streams cool during hot weather.

FAQ

  • What are forest buffers?

    Forest buffers are the trees, shrubs and other plants that grow next to streams and rivers.

  • How do forest buffers benefit the Chesapeake Bay?

    Forest buffers are critical to the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Forest buffers prevent pollution from entering rivers and streams, stabilize stream banks, provide food and habitat to wildlife and keep streams cool during hot weather. More than half of the watershed’s native species depend on forest buffers for food, shelter and access to water at some point in their lives. And sensitive aquatic species depend on the shade that streamside trees provide.

  • How do forest buffers protect water quality?

    Forest buffers prevent polluted runoff from entering rivers and streams. Forest buffers also hold soil in place, stabilizing stream banks and reducing the amount of sand, silt and sediment that can wash into waterways.

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Terms

  • Amphibian

    A cold-blooded vertebrate that lives in water and on land. Amphibians’ aquatic, gill-breathing larval stage is typically followed by a terrestrial, lung-breathing adult stage. For example, frogs, toads and salamanders are amphibians found in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

  • Crustaceans

    Aquatic arthropods (invertebrates) that have gills, joined legs and exterior skeletons. Crabs, shrimps, barnacles, amphipods and isopods are all crustaceans.

  • Erosion

    The disruption or movement of soil by wind, water or ice, occurring naturally or as a result of land use practices.

  • Nutrients

    Chemicals that plants and animals need to grow and survive but, in excess amounts, can harm aquatic environments. Elevated levels of the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorous are the main cause of poor water quality in the Chesapeake Bay.

  • Pollution

    The introduction of harmful substances or products into the environment.

  • Riparian

    The area of land next to a body of water. Riparian areas form the transition between terrestrial and aquatic environments.

  • Riparian forest buffers

    Trees, shrubs and other vegetation located along the edge of rivers, streams and other waterways that filter pollution, prevent erosion and provide wildlife habitat.

  • Sediment

    Loose particles of sand, silt and clay that settle on the bottom of rivers, lakes, estuaries and oceans. Suspended sediment pushed into the water by erosion is one of the biggest impairments to water quality in the Chesapeake Bay.

  • Stormwater

    Any precipitation in an urban or suburban area that does not evaporate or soak into the ground, but instead collects and flows into storm drains, rivers and streams. Stormwater is also called urban stormwater, stormwater runoff and polluted runoff. Increased development across the Chesapeake Bay watershed has made stormwater the fastest growing source of pollution to the Bay and its rivers and streams.

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