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Managing riparian zones for river health improvement: an integrated approach

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Abstract

Riparian zones are among the most valuable ecosystems on the earth. They act as the ecological engineers that improve river health through delivering a range of ecosystem functions. Stream bank stabilization, pollutant and sediment buffering, temperature regulation, provision of energy to river food webs and communities, groundwater recharge and provision of ecological corridors and habitat for wildlife, are among major ecosystem functions of riparian zones that play a great role in river health. Besides these ecosystem functions, riparian zones also provide various ecosystem goods and services for human well-being. But in the current scenario, riparian zones are under severe threat due to agricultural activities, urbanization, river flow alteration, overexploitation, climate change, pollution, and biological invasion. In the present and probable future scenarios of declining river health and global environmental changes, there is a pressing need of an integrated approach for managing riparian zones. This review article aims to advocate an integrated approach for riparian zone management based on various components such as riparian condition assessment, policy framework, stakeholder’s participation, management practices, legislation, and awareness. Authors also discussed riparian zones in context of their concepts, features, functions, and threats.

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Acknowledgements

Authors would like to thank the director, Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi for supporting in multiple ways during research. Rinku Singh and A. K. Tiwari thank the University Grant Commission (UGC), Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India for providing fellowship. We are highly obliged to the Central office, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi for their support in official work.

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Singh, R., Tiwari, A.K. & Singh, G.S. Managing riparian zones for river health improvement: an integrated approach. Landscape Ecol Eng 17, 195–223 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11355-020-00436-5

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