Streamside vegetation, also referred to as riparian vegetation, is an important component of fish and wildlife habitat and the proper functioning of streams, lakes and wetlands. Trees and shrubs bordering waterbodies that support fish are considered fish habitat. Trees and shrubs benefit streams in the following ways:
? Vegetation moderates stream temperatures in the summer. Trees and shrubs shade the water surface from solar radiation, moderating water temperatures, resulting in higher
dissolved oxygen levels and reduced algal blooms. In fish bearing waters, high temperatures and low dissolved oxygen levels can result in fish kills or a reduction in the health and vigour of fish.
? The root systems of trees and shrubs bind bank sediments, maintaining natural bank geometry and reducing bank erosion. Floodplain vegetation also slows over-bank flows, inducing sediment deposition rather than erosion.
? Large streamside trees provide a source of large woody debris that is important for stream channel stability and structure and forms an important component of fish habitat. These trees and the large woody debris they produce provide critical habitats
for many wildlife species, especially birds and cavity dependent species.
? Overhanging vegetation provides fish hiding cover from predators, insect drop as a direct food source and leaf litter which supplies nutrients to the stream and, in turn, provides an indirect food source for fish via aquatic insects and other organisms dependent upon the stream.
? Streamside vegetation allows for filtration of overland flows carrying sediment and other non-point source pollutants from surface runoff discharging to streams.
Ministry of Environment. 2006. Best Management Practices for Hazard Tree and Non-Hazard Tree Limbing, Topping or Removal. Ministry of Environment. Best Management Practices