Riparian Buffers


Contents List


Riparian Buffer Metaphors!

Compare the characteristics, functions, and benefits of riparian buffers to common objects. Functions ListBlank Functions List.
Metaphor items in Slides. Metaphor items in a Document.

Riparian Runoff Rivalry

Two demonstrations of how riparian forest buffers effectively reduce soil erosion and the amount of runoff entering waterways, decreasing sedimentation and turbidity levels therein. Files to Project. Data Sheets to project.


Observe, estimate, and assess the physical and biological characteristics of 100 meters of stream channel and riparian zone. Extension Activity: Riparian Observations. Illustrated Guide to RCE Terminology

Buffered Stream, Healthy Stream

Compare the chemical health of two small streams, one of which has a healthy riparian forest buffer and the other of which is more exposed or virtually buffer-less. Data and site descriptions.

RipCycles & Nutrient Travels

Read information and answer questions about nutrient cycling in riparian ecosystems, particularly the carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorous cycles. Then, follow the travels of these nutrients through a riparian ecosystem.  RipCycles Info Sheet

Tree ID

Identify various types of leaves from common Pennsylvania trees. Distinguish between trees that are found near waterways versus those that are only found in the uplands. Click here for the data sheet. Streamside-Upland Moisture Gradient.  FIGURE 1  Figures 2 & 3  FIGURE 4


Observe a demonstration of what ecotones are and their implications for biodiversity. Then investigate differences in tree diversity between a riparian ecotone and an upland forest. Pages to project/show to class with the lesson.  Figures to Project.

Wrangling Over Riparian Zones

Play the role of a farmer or Conservation District agent and debate a proposed mandate for 100-foot-wide buffers along all waterways.

Riparian Roundup

Visit a riparian area and apply knowledge from other Riparian Buffers Module activities to observe, answer questions, and draw conclusions about the riparian area.

Value of Trees coloring page from Pennsylvania Parks & Forest Foundation


Riparian Forest Buffers: The Link Between Land & Water, The Riparian Zone, and Life on the Edge Watch a video about the functions, benefits, and/or restoration and management of riparian buffers. Then answer and discuss “Study Questions” about the video. Click HERE for Life on the Edge Activity sheet.

Module Resource Guide Information:

Fact Sheets Basic information about riparian buffer functions and management. Articles of Interest Articles relevant to riparian buffers and how they protect waterways, provide habitat to wildlife, and are managed. Riparian Restoration & Management Information on how to find funding for and conduct riparian restoration projects. General Activity Information A list of module activities and an explanation of the activity format (layout). Activities Specific to the riparian buffers theme, these activities include all the necessary background information for teachers to pick up the activity and do the lesson in their classrooms or in the field.


Step 1: Check Module Availability

Step 2: Complete Our On-line Request Form