The riparian zone forms a buffer for nutrients between streams and rivers and their catchments((Catchment Condition Online Maps website at Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry Australia.)). Riparian vegetation also helps to stabilise river banks, reducing streambed/bank erosion.
The length of river running through forests as a percentage of the total length of the river in Australia’s Intensive Landuse Zone, was used as an indicator of riparian zone condition during the National Land and Water Resources Audit, in the assessment catchment condition((The assessment of catchment condition was conducted as a partnership between the Audit, the Bureau of Rural Sciences and CSIRO Land and Water with support and involvement of State and Territory natural resource management agencies. The final report (Project 7/8) to the National Land and Water Resources Audit by Walker, J., Veitch, S. Braaten, R., Dowling, T., Guppy, L., Herron, N (2001) is entitled Assessment of Catchment Condition in Australia’s Intensive Land Use Zone: A biophysical assessment at the national scale and is found at the following website Assessment of catchment condition in Australia’s intensive land use zone : a biophysical assessment at the national scale / Joe Walker, Simon Veitch.)).
Coastal issues arising from riparian vegetation removal
Some potential impacts on the coastal zone caused by the removal of riparian vegetation in catchments are:
- increased fine sediment loads and turbidity levels; and
- increased nutrient loads, potentially leading to eutrophication.
Existing information and data
More information and maps showing the percentages of rivers running through forests can be found at the Catchment Condition Online Maps website((Catchment Condition Online Maps website at Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry Australia.)). Appendix I (pp. 311-312) in Volume 2 of the Australian Catchment, River and Estuary Assessment, 2002 contains a map of Australia’s River Basins and Drainage Divisions in which each river basin has been assigned a number. These catchment numbers can be matched to a large number of coastal waterways in pages 316-363 of the same document. The percentage of rivers running through forests for a large number of river basins are available in Appendix B (pg 65-76) of the Assessment of Catchment Condition in Australia’s Intensive Land Use Zone: A biophysical assessment at the national scale((Catchment Condition Online Maps website at Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry Australia.)). Follow this link for more information in the riparian zone.