Riparian Buffer Assessment of Southeastern Pennsylvania


  • Berks, Bucks, Lehigh, Montgomery, Chester & Delaware Counties, Pennsylvania


Riparian forest buffers are strips of woodland alongside streams. They provide many natural benefits, such as shading and cooling the water, trapping nutrients and sediment run-off, stabilizing riverbanks, and providing food and cover for aquatic and terrestrial wildlife.

In 2000, Heritage Conservancy developed a method to identify and map forested riparian buffers using high-level area photographs and video of helicopter flyovers. That same year, we received funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to analyze the forested riparian buffers of southeastern Pennsylvania.

High-altitude aerial photographs (1″ = 400′ black-and-white) and videotape from helicopter overflights were used to determine the presence or absence of a forested buffer for 1,200 miles of stream. The forest buffer conditions were classified and digitized into a GIS map.

Heritage Conservancy prepared a final report on the project, which was presented to municipal officials, local conservation groups, and members of the general public at workshops, during which Heritage Conservancy staff also discussed riparian buffers and their importance to ecosystems, local conservation priorities and possible funding sources for conservation projects indicated by the research findings.

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