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What is a Riparian Margin and what can it do for Water Quality?

A Riparian Margin is the land that runs alongside our rivers and streams. These margins can vary in width and type but in simple terms they are basically the corridors that are adjacent to our water bodies. Fiona Doolan, Teagasc ASSAP Advisor, Laois has more information.

The objective of a riparian margin is to protect the river by creating buffer zones alongside them where little or no agricultural activity takes place. Wider riparian margins are beneficial, particularly in more sloped, marginal land where there is a greater risk of surface water runoff carrying nutrient and sediment with it.

Riparian margins can be as basic as unfenced or fenced grass margins along the watercourse. Some margins will contain hedgerows and  trees while others can be wider larger areas, devoted to woodland / scrub or natural habitat. Despite the differences in what they contain, all riparian margins have the potential to protect the rivers and streams they are adjacent to them while enhancing the habitat and biodiversity living along them.