Streamside Tree-Planting


Streamside (or "riparian") tree-planting (or "reforestation) buffers use trees and shrubs remove nutrients, sediment, organic matter, pesticides, and other pollutants from surface runoff and subsurface flow. These types of buffers are very similar to what would naturally occur near a river and are a preferred method of protecting water quality.


Riparian forest buffers serve many important functions. They capture sediment and filter runoff (e.g. pesticides and fertilizers) from agricultural fields and can provide wind shelter for crop fields. They provide high quality fish and wildlife habitat by providing stream shading, riparian cover and food resources and travel corridors. Finally, forested buffers increase the “roughness” alongside a watercourse, slowing floodwater flows, capturing sediments and nutrients and reducing streambank erosion rates.


Buffers widths vary depending on the stability of the river and the management considerations for the cropland or pasture, but a minimum 35 foot average buffer is needed to accomplish the goals of filtering nutrients and protecting riverbanks from erosion. Site preparation and planting is typically done in the spring or fall to best ensure plant growth and survival, when soil moisture is most adequate for establishment and trees are dormant. Species selected for planting should be suited to site conditions and intended uses, and have the capacity to achieve adequate density and vigor within an appropriate period to stabilize the site. Only high quality, native or adapted planting stock should be used. Species on the Vermont State listed noxious, invasive or watch list are not allowed.


It is estimated that establishing a forested buffer can cost anywhere between $1,000-$2,000 per acre for the materials alone. However, there are many programs available that fully cover the cost of installing a forested riparian buffer, and the "CREP" program also provides incentive and rental payments for lost use of agricultural land.


  • Grass Buffers

  • Animal Trails and Walkways

  • Livestock Exclusion