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Riparian buffer zones are patches of land adjacent to rivers, streams and drains, removed from intensive production. These areas provide a variety of environmental and ecological services, including a habitat for biodiversity, enhancing connectivity, alleviating flood threat, greenhouse gas exchanges and recreational services. Despite their widespread implementation, uncertainties remain in relation to the optimal design, management and cost-effectiveness of riparian buffer zones as a measure to support the delivery of ecosystem services and to enhance the quality of watercourses. The SMARTER_BufferZ project aims to ensure optimal targeting and management of riparian buffers for the effective management of Irish rivers.

Objectives and tasks

The SMARTER_BufferZ project will:

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of targeted riparian management measures to maintain and enhance water quality in Irish rivers.
  • Identify factors and develop tools for risks associated with inefficiently sited or designed buffers that do not optimise benefits, particularly for water quality and ecological condition.
  • Make recommendations for actions from basic strategies widely implemented, to more specific requirements according to site circumstances, both physical and habitat aspects, at the correct spatial extent.

SMARTER_BufferZ will contribute to environmental policy and to improved management of agricultural and surface water landscapes in Ireland.

Project team

Principal Investigator:

Project Partners:

  • Per-Erik Mellander, Teagasc ESLU Johnstown Castle, Wexford.
  • Simon Parker, Teagasc ESLU Johnstown Castle, Wexford.
  • Fabiola Costa, Teagasc ESLU Johnstown Castle, Wexford.
  • Marc Stutter, James Hutton Institute
  • Nikki Baggaley, James Hutton Institute
  • Allan Lilly, James Hutton Institute
  • Mark Wilkinson, James Hutton Institute
  • Andrea Baggio, James Hutton Institute

Further information:



YouTube Channel

This project is funded under the EPA Research Programme 2014-2020. The EPA Research Programme is a Government of Ireland initiative funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment. It is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, which has the statutory function of co-ordinating and promoting environmental research.