Riparian areas are formed as the result of water, soil and vegetation interacting with one another.
Whether we call them floodplains, shorelines, green zones or riparian areas, their character begins with fine wet soils developed in them.
Vegetation in the riparian area is different from that of uplands:
The health of riparian areas has declined dramatically in many areas of Alberta and North America since the early 1900’s. Although there are many causes of this, one main reason is that we often do not understand or fully appreciate the functions and roles riparian areas provide to landscapes and societies.
Although riparian areas make up only a small fraction of our landscape, they are disproportionately important to fish and wildlife, recreation, agriculture, and society in general.
Consider that most cities and towns are built next to a river or lake (and therefore the riparian area), and that 80% of Alberta’s wildlife rely in whole or in part on riparian areas to survive. The health and functioning of riparian areas can be influenced by activities as diverse as road construction, resource extraction, agriculture, urban or rural development, and recreation.