3D Buffer Strips

3D buffer strips – doing more for the environment

A new study looks at how buffer zones can deliver even more benefits for the environment, and reduce diffuse pollution from agriculture. This presentation is a summary of the findings.

How riparian buffer zones can deliver more for the environment

New ideas can greatly improve grass buffers designed to reduce pollution from agriculture. A recently published study considers how the design and management of riparian buffers could be improved to reduce water pollution and provide a range of other outcomes for the environment, such as storing carbon, creating new habitat, keeping rivers cool and providing flood management benefits. A new concept is also introduced that explores the functioning of buffer zones in three-dimensions and the study looks at how this can be exploited to trap pollutants moving below, across and above ground.

Benefits of 3D buffers

The study found that establishing riparian woodland buffers scored high for improving most functions and had a substantial supporting body of evidence. Problematic sites with high pollutant pressures would need greater intervention, such as more engineered buffer designs. This could include incorporating ridges, swales or mini-wetlands.

Three-dimensional buffers zones are a measure that can provide such diverse benefits for the environment and it is hoped that this study will form the scientific basis for their widespread use in the future. To view the full report visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/3d-buffer-strips-designed-to-deliver-more-for-the-environment

This study was part of a collaboration by the Environment Agency and  Forestry Commission, produced and written by Forest Research and the James Hutton.