Conflicts between objectives of resource management are most evident at the riparian edge of aquatic systems, whether the land use is forestry, agriculture, or urban settlement. Riparian management and reserve strips originated to safeguard fish habitat, but have since come to be a primary tool to serve other objectives, e.g., wildlife habitat and nutrient uptake. How are we doing with riparian protection? And have we got the right balance of protection? Repeatedly, studies have shown that riparian reserves contribute to woody debris supply, streambank stability, reduced thermal changes, maintenance of detrital inputs, etc., and occasionally that there are benefits to fish populations. In aggregate, these studies suggest the measures are working. However, we still need to determine if the amounts and configurations of riparian reserves are sufficient, and whether they will protect against extreme events. Few studies have tested whether a particular reserve size is the "right" width for meeting all our objectives and to deal with uncertainty. The need for protecting small streams remains a major issue in many places. The particular widths and degree of retention in the reserves also needs to be more clearly tied to the specifics of a particular landscape and land use, rather than assuming one size meets all needs in all places.
John S. Richardson.
Richardson, John S.. 2005. Ecology and management of riparian-stream ecosystems: a large-scale experiment using alternative streamside management techniques. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report