Agroforestry isn’t rocket science. It can be far more complicated than that. Planning for an agroforestry venture means keeping abreast of many moving parts. Each which may come with its own set of risks and uncertainties.
All of which can leave new producers or even seasoned veterans pondering where to start.
Successfully navigating the riparian health assessment (RHA) procedure benefits from three key habits: tuning your eyes, taking good notes and being systematic. It also requires being conscience of your biases. And, you should also have some understanding of what is normal, or what might be missing or modified.
Riparian health is a key concept for agricultural stewardship. In my last post I discussed the value of riparian areas in agricultural settings. I also described the benefits of maintaining riparian zones to avoid on- and off-farm environmental impacts. In this post I will cover the importance of measuring and monitoring riparian areas.
What is Riparian Health?
Riparian health refers to the overall condition of the greenzone. This score expresses how well the current structure functions relative to its full potential.
To manage riparian health, one first must understand what you are managing. Riparian zones, sometimes referred to as ‘green zones‘, are critical areas for stewardship in the agricultural landscape. They are a transition between aquatic areas (streams, lakes, wetlands, etc.) and the terrestrial (upland) zones. They typically flood on a regular basis, or have persistently high water tables. And this means they have features that reflect their part-aquatic, part-terrestrial nature.
The ecological importance of the green zone cannot be overstated. Riparian areas are highly productive. And they support vegetation and other life that thrives because of the abundant water, nutrients and organic matter that accumulates.