U.S. Department of Agriculture: Forest Service -- National Agroforestry Center


Date of this Version



Reprinted from the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation Volume 59, Number 5.


Through many funding programs, riparian buffers are being created on agricultural lands to address significant water quality problems. Society and landowners are demanding many other environmental and social services (e.g., wildlife habitat and income diversification) from this practice. Resource planners therefore need to design riparian buffer systems in the right places to provide multiple services. However, scientific guidance for this is lacking. We developed a geographic information system (GIS)-based assessment method for quickly identifying where buffers can be established to restore connectivity of riparian areas for the benefit of terrestrial wildlife. An area in northeastern Kansas was selected to evaluate this tool. Species with limited dispersal capabilities were used as indicators for riparian connectivity. To improve connectivity, results indicated that 22 percent of the perennial stream length in the study area would need riparian buffers. This coarse-filter approach appears to be appropriate for large area planning and can be used singly or in combination with other GIS-guided resource assessments to guide riparian buffer design and implementation.