University of Oulu

Kuglerová, L., Jyväsjärvi, J., Ruffing, C., Muotka, T., Jonsson, A., Andersson, E., Richardson, J. S. (2020). Cutting edge: A comparison of contemporary practices of riparian buffer retention around small streams in Canada, Finland, and Sweden. Water Resources Research, 56, e2019WR026381.

Cutting edge : a comparison of contemporary practices of riparian buffer retention around small streams in Canada, Finland, and Sweden

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Author: Kuglerová, Lenka1; Jyväsjärvi, Jussi2; Ruffing, Claire3;
Organizations: 1Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå, Sweden
2Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
4Freshwater Centre, Finnish Environment Institute, Oulu, Finland
5The Swedish Forest Agency, Skogsstyrelsen, Umeå, Sweden
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: American Geophysical Union, 2020
Publish Date: 2021-01-22


Forested riparian buffers are recommended to mitigate negative effects of forest harvesting on recipient freshwater ecosystems. Most of the current best practices of riparian buffer retention aim at larger streams. Riparian protection along small streams is thought to be lacking; however, it is not well documented. We surveyed 286 small streams flowing through recent clearcuts in three timber‐producing jurisdictions—British Columbia, Canada (BC), Finland, and Sweden. The three jurisdictions differed in riparian buffer implementation. In BC, forested buffers are not required on the smallest streams, and 45% of the sites in BC had no buffer. The average (±SE) width of voluntarily retained buffers was 15.9 m (±2.1) on each side of the stream. An operation‐free zone is mandatory around the smallest streams in BC, and 90% of the sites fulfilled these criteria. Finland and Sweden had buffers allocated to most of the surveyed streams, with average buffer width of 15.3 m (±1.4) in Finland and 4 m (±0.4) in Sweden. Most of the streams in the two Nordic countries had additional forestry‐associated impairments such as machine tracks, or soil preparation within the riparian zone. Riparian buffer width somewhat increased with stream size and slope of the riparian area, however, not in all investigated regions. We concluded that the majority of the streams surveyed in this study are insufficiently protected. We suggest that a monitoring of forestry practices and revising present forestry guidelines is needed in order to increase the protection of our smallest water courses.

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Series: Water resources research
ISSN: 0043-1397
ISSN-E: 1944-7973
ISSN-L: 0043-1397
Volume: 56
Issue: 9
Article number: e2019WR026381
DOI: 10.1029/2019WR026381
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: Funding was provided by the Swedish Research Council Formas, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Academy of Finland. This publication is a part of the collaborative SOSTPRO project (Source Stream Protection) that is organized through the JPI Water Works 2016 Co‐funded Call.
Copyright information: © 2020 The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.