Riparian buffer zones are patches of land adjacent to rivers, streams and drains, removed from intensive production. These areas provide a variety of environmental and ecological services, including a habitat for biodiversity, enhancing connectivity, alleviating flood threat, greenhouse gas exchanges and recreational services. Despite their widespread implementation, uncertainties remain in relation to the optimal design, management and cost-effectiveness of riparian buffer zones as a measure to support the delivery of ecosystem services and to enhance the quality of watercourses. The SMARTER_BufferZ project aims to ensure optimal targeting and management of riparian buffers for the effective management of Irish rivers.

The project will:

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of targeted riparian management measures to maintain and enhance water quality in Irish rivers.
  • Identify factors and develop tools for risks associated with inefficiently sited or designed buffers that do not optimise benefits, particularly for water quality and ecological condition.
  • Make recommendations for actions from basic strategies widely implemented, to more specific requirements according to site circumstances, both physical and habitat aspects, at the correct spatial extent.
  • SMARTER_BufferZ will contribute to environmental policy and to improved management of agricultural and surface water landscapes in Ireland.


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    James Hutton Institute



      Riparian Buffer Zones can play an important role in enhancing the quality of watercourses, along with providing a multitude of additional environmental services. The SMARTER_BufferZ project is excited to launch a Photo Competition to showcase best practice in riparian buffer zone management. This is an opportunity to highlight examples of positive riparian management from throughout Ireland. Send us photos of your rivers, streams and their riparian margins. You can send as many photos as you want! The three best photos will be posted on the SMARTER_BufferZ website, along with an interview with the winning photographer/ land-owner.

      Click HERE to find more about the rules. To send your photos, click on the picture bellow.

    • Better Management - Buffer Zones

      New video from SMARTER_BufferZ, Teagasc, JamesHuttonInst highlighting various buffer options to improve water quality.

      Click on the picture to start the video.

    • 3D Buffer Strips Report

      3D buffer strips report considers how we can improve the effectiveness of riparian buffer zones to help tackle agricultural pollution, suggesting ways that buffers can deliver more for the environment. Three-dimensional buffer zones (intercept pollution below ground, as runoff travels over the soil surface and then above ground in the vegetation canopy) maximise multiple environmental, farm business and public goods outcomes.

      Click on the picture for full report.

    • New Technologist on SMARTER BufferZ

      Fabiola Costa just joined the project. Fabiola is Italo-Brazilian, received the BSc in Agricultural Engineer from UNICAMP – State University of Campinas, and MSc in Business Administration from FAPPES in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She has research and work experience in soil, fertilizer and their interactions. Her last project was in Teagasc: Water Protect, which aimed at at assessing the efficacy and uptake of mitigation measures to protect water resources from nitrate and pesticide loss in rural agricultural environment.