Riparian areas can support diverse vegetation, help maintain bank stability,
and increase ecological and economic productivity.
A riparian zone is land alongside creeks, streams, gullies, rivers and wetlands. These areas are unique and diverse, and are often the most fertile parts of the landscape.
In a natural or well managed state, riparian areas are important for many reasons. They can support diverse vegetation, help maintain bank stability, and increase ecological and economic productivity. These conditions support cleaner water, reduce disease and pests, and retain important nutrients and soil. Healthy land supports healthy waterways.
Riparian areas are vulnerable and easily degraded. Damage can be caused by uncontrolled stock access, clearing for agriculture or urban development, invasion by pests and feral animals such as rabbits, weeds such as privet, or from overuse by recreational activities. Waste from stock such as cows and sheep can contribute pollution, and trampling can destroy vegetation, soil structure, and result in loss of valuable soil and land.
The importance of managing riparian land well is increasingly being recognised, and protection, rehabilitation and restoration work is being undertaken across the catchments.
Landowners have legal rights and responsibilities for managing riparian areas. Landowners are entitled to take water from a river or creek which fronts their land for domestic use and stock watering without the need for a water management licence. All landowners should seek advice about any activities they wish to undertake that may disturb vegetation, soil or water.
What you can do:
- Use fences to control or prevent stock access to waterways and riparian areas. Consider using alternative troughs to water stock.
- Encourage the regeneration of native plants, or assist growth by planting natives and controlling weeds.
- Allow layers of different vegetation to grow: groundcovers, understorey and canopy.
- Seek professional advice about erosion control, or about unique problems associated with crossings or bridges.
- Consider the benefits of well-managed riparian areas: increased bank stability and improved water quality, easier stock management, and improved productivity.