Riparian areas are the lands adjacent to streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands, where the vegetation and soils are strongly influenced by the presence of water. Although they make up only a small fraction of the land, they are among the most productive and valuable of all landscape types and have been the focus of conflicts between resource users.
Riparian areas are formed as the result 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.
Ecology and Function
Although riparian areas provide similar functions for flowing (streams/rivers) and non-flowing (lakes/wetlands) systems, there are some differences.