Science to Inform Riparian Ecosystem Restoration and Management

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Throughout the world, riparian habitats have been dramatically modified from their natural condition. Dams, non-native species and climate change are often principal drivers of these changes, via their alteration of water and sediment regimes that determine key resources for riparian plants.

Riparian planting in the Powell River watershed in Lee County, VA, part of the Lone Mountain NRDAR restoration.
This is a riparian planting in the Powell River watershed in Lee County, Virginia. Public domain.

Dams are often principal drivers of riparian ecosystem changes, via their alteration of water and sediment regimes that determine key resources for riparian plants. Another common perturbation in riparian ecosystems is the spread of non-native, invasive species. Climate change can interact with these variables to drive further changes to riparian areas. Because of the array of ecological goods and services provided by riparian ecosystems, their restoration have become the focus of many land and water managers. Efforts to restore riparian habitats and other riverine ecosystems have included managing flow releases downstream of dams to more closely mimic natural flows, controlling invasive species in combination with other restoration actions, and, occasionally, dam removal.

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