Taking Stock of Riparian Forest Cover: GIS Streamlines Inventory of Riparian Forest Buffers in Chesapeake Bay Watershed


Rick Day and Raymond Crew

Publication Date

October, 2001


Though ecologists and landowners have long appreciated the value of riparian zones - areas adjacent to water bodies - the challenge has been identifying riparian areas to protect or restore. A collaborative effort by five research groups - three at the Pennsylvania State University (Land Analysis Laboratory, the Cooperative Wetlands Research Center, and the Environmental Resources Research Institute), plus the Chesapeake Bay Program's Nutrient Subcommittee and the Virginia Department of Forestry - produced a method to evaluate the extent of forest cover adjacent to all streams, rivers and shorelines in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Their geographic information systems (GIS) approach used existing data readily available from federal and state agencies. The goal was to produce information useful for broad-scale targeting and decision-making policy and to provide a watershed-scale assessment of riparian forest buffer status.