Technical Bulletins & Special Reports

Technical Bulletin No. 0922: Structural and Functional Roles of Riparian Management Areas in Maintaining Stream Values in the Acadian Forest

 Dynamic geomorphic and hydrological processes maintain the ecosystem functions of both the aquatic and terrestrial components of the riparian areas of forested streams. These ecosystem functions include the moderation of stream temperature and light, the filtration of sediments and nutrients entering streams, and the inputting of fine and large organic debris into streams. Riparian areas also provide habitats that sustain a range of biodiversity in both the stream and adjacent terrestrial areas, and provide corridors of habitats that may facilitate movement and dispersal of plants and animals. Much of our knowledge of the ecological functions of riparian zones comes from observations of the effects of forest harvesting on riparian ecosystems. In light of these observations, Riparian Management Areas; strips of forest retained on either side of streams) have been used to mitigate these effects. This literature review focuses on how riparian communities respond to forest harvesting with retention of RMAs in particular reference to Acadian forest streams.

The Acadian forest spans the Maritime provinces of Canada and in the United States most of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont; part of Massachusetts and Connecticut; and a small portion of New York. The Acadian forest is considered a transitional forest, retaining elements of both the boreal forest to the north and the deciduous forest to the south. Although research addressing the effects of forest management on the ecological functions of the riparian systems of the Acadian forest is limited, it is fairly diverse, perhaps with a slight bias toward examining the water quality aspects of these systems.