As temperature trends increase on Earth and the negative effects of anthropogenically driven climate change become clearer, the diversity and health of our natural resources continue to be threatened at a growing rate. Riparian zones, or streamside zones, are one of these natural resources that under normal conditions, provides an enormous variety of ecosystem services. Not only do they provide habitat, food, and shelter for organisms in the area, but they also act as biological and physical buffers to pollution and sedimentation. Climate change threatens the health of this natural buffer. As temperatures increase, the patterns of the season change causing abnormal flooding and drying, which both can be detrimental to the ecosystem (National Park Service, 2006). In the face of this problem, it will become necessary to consider what we plant and where in order to mitigate the effects of temperature change and choose appropriate species that will still be able to carry out ecosystem services (Kane et al. 2013). Virginia should add a riparian zone protocol to the Adopt-a-Stream program run by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation to assist in the migration of plants, as well as restore existing resilient species and those plants that do well with invasive species. Volunteers can choose between planting in the riparian zone and submitting reports of the species they find to program coordinators. The protocol is designed to honor the financial needs of volunteers while giving them the necessary guidelines to collect useful and usable data for future use.
Poster session for the Environmental Studies Senior Seminar.
Ares, Natalya. "Riparian Zone Protocol: A Necessary Addition to an Existing Program." Poster for Environmental Studies Senior Seminar, University of Richmond, April 21, 2015.