Conservation Buffers Make Good Sense Conservation buffers are small areas or strips of permanent vegetation that control erosion caused by wind and water, trap pollutants, and provide protection for wildlife and livestock.
Conservation buffers are small areas or strips of permanent vegetation that control erosion caused by wind and water, trap pollutants, and provide protection for wildlife and livestock. The flexibility and benefits of conservation buffers make them a practical option for most landowners. They can be installed practically anywhere fragile land and water need protection. There are many types and combinations of buffers, but the types that deserve special attention during the fall months are the riparian buffer strips and shelterbelts.
Riparian buffer strips are areas of trees or shrubs located adjacent to streams, lakes, ponds, and wetlands. They intercept pollutants before they reach surface and ground water, stop shoreline erosion and provide havens for a number of wildlife and aquatic organisms. Shelterbelts, also called windbreaks, are usually single or multiple rows of trees or shrubs planted perpendicular to prevailing winds that provide protection from wind and snow. These buffers can protect wildlife, farmsteads, cropland, and livestock. They can also dampen noise and beautify the landscape.
According to the NRCS, now is the time to begin planning and installing buffers. To insure a successful stand, only tree species that are adapted to your area should be planted, and trees should always be of viable, high-quality planting stock. Special consideration to plant diversity and the use of native species should be given when wildlife is a factor in planning a buffer. The planting site needs to be carefully planned out in relation to wind and runoff directions. Then the site needs to be sufficiently prepared to provide the best growing conditions possible for the trees.
Most people tend to think that it will take too long to reap the benefits of their efforts, but trees can reach up to 10 feet in height in about 5 years. A windbreak 10 feet tall can provide protection from wind for up to 100 feet. This can add up to big economic benefits by reducing heating bills, reduced crop wind damage, increased livestock gain and survival, and increased assets due to wildlife habitation. For further information and assistance, contact your local NRCS Field Service Center.