Object structure

Rola ekosystemów nadrzecznych w krajobrazach rolniczych w kontekście ostatnich zmian klimatu = The role of riparian ecosystems within agricultural landscapes in the climate change context


Przegląd Geograficzny T. 93 z. 3 (2021)


Kołaczkowska, Ewa : Autor Affiliation ORCID



Place of publishing:


Date issued/created:



24 cm

Subject and Keywords:

riparian buffer ; agricultural landscape ; climate change ; vegetation ; rivers


Average global temperatures have been rising extremely rapidly over recent decades, with all the side-effects that may denote, including increased risks of both drought and flood, prolongation of the growing season, intensification of other extreme weather events, potentially enhanced erosion and sediment transport through river basins, and even invasions of pests and diseases. Against that factual background, this paper presents a review, and in essence a summary, of existing scientific literature as it pertains to the functioning of the riparian ecosystems present within agricultural landscapes, as well as the former’s potential role in mitigating climate change. Riparian ecosystems of course constitute areas of transition between the aquatic and terrestrial environments, and are in a position to serve as buffers, as they filter and neutralise nutrients and pesticides descending from areas at higher elevations, provide shade (that may limit the spread of light-demanding alien species), moderate stream temperatures, and work to sequester atmospheric CO2 in both plant biomass and soil. They also support water retention in river valleys, and protect banks against erosion. Zoned buffer strips consisting of one strip of trees and one of grassy or herbaceous vegetation are shown to be among the most-effective measures deployable in the mitigation of diffuse pollution. A search through 2 bibliographical databases (the Web of Science Core Collection and Scopus) was undertaken in respect of the terms: ” riparian buffer” OR” riparian corridor” OR” riparian zone” OR” riparian strip” AND” agricultural” AND” climate change”. Such a procedure allowed for the identification of 76 separate scientific papers, albeit with 12 of these warranting exclusion from further analyses on account of their actual irrelevance. The largest body of literature on this topic is seen to concentrate on highly-developed countries of North America and Europe, notably the USA, Canada and France. Deeper analysis of the papers found points to a growing interest in mathematical modelling of the effects of agricultural best-mangement practices (BMPs), in regard to future streamflow, supply of water, the transport of sediment through a basin, rates of export of nitrogen and phosphorus, etc. – with both current climatic conditions and various future scenarios for climate being taken account of. The results of all this modelling tend to show how riparian buffers may serve in a basin-based strategy for climate adaptation, by which change may actually be mitigated more effectively than it can through other BMPs, even as no full offsetting of impacts is likely to prove achievable. Many of the authors in publications selected also choose to underline the multifunctional nature of riparian ecosystems, and the specific nature of the services they have to offer. 69% of the publications analysed address implications for practice, e.g. by offering guidelines as regards conservation strategies, and/or recommendations for managers of basins or other key decision-makers when it comes to restoring or improving both the ecological health of rivers, and levels of human well-being in general.


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