Multi-functional Buffer

What is a Multi-functional Buffer?

A Multifunctional Riparian Forest Buffer is a thoughtful selection of shrubs, trees, and thick grasses along a streamside area which benefit the ecosystem. The Multifunctional buffers can be defined as three different zones with a variety of trees, perennials, flowers, and other harvestable products in each zone. There are plenty of possibilities to establish a buffer that can both protect water quality and create a harvestable product.

Why is it Important?

Multifunctional Riparian buffers are very beneficial to the ecosystem through filtering stormwater, trapping pollutants and helping slow erosion along a stream or river’s edge.

Wildlife Buffer

Wildlife Buffer is a managed forest area that provides food, shelter, water, and breeding sites for a multitude of animals, reptiles, and birds. The Wildlife Buffer goes beyond the first

15 feet of stream’s edge (zone one).   This area of a multifunctional riparian (zone two and zone three) should be about 100 feet wide and planted with PA native nut, seed, and berry producing plants. These plants stabilize riparian areas and provide food for visiting wildlife.  Warm-season grasses and wildflowers are other good options for this area to support wildlife habitat and provide good ground cover to protect stream quality.


Edible Buffer

An edible buffer is an example of a multifunctional riparian area.  This buffer can be aesthetically pleasing and profitable by including plants that produce marketable fruit, nuts, syrup, berries, and roots. If given the opportunity to enhance or regenerate a riparian forest buffer, consider planting edible species. This will not only help restore ecosystem functionality, but also provide diverse, long-lasting sources of nourishment for personal use or profit. 


Floriculture Buffer

A floriculture buffer is the cultivation of perennial flowers and ornamental vegetation. This buffer can be used to support pollinators such as bees or produce flowers and other plants to be used in a cut-flower business.  Flowering bushes and trees such as hydrangea and pussy willows can be planted in zone 2 and be managed and harvested by hand.   Deep rooted flowering plants are a good option to plant in Zone 3 and can also be harvested for personal use or profit.  Floriculture plants in zone 2 and 3 also slow stormwater runoff and trap pollutants to help with improved stream quality.


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