A strip of vegetation (trees, shrubs, grasses, etc.) that grows along the edges of a bank or a waterway. Its major role is to provide shade and protect the nearby ecosystem from the impact of adjacent anthropogenic land use.
Riparian buffers act as a cushion protecting the more sensitive ecosystem from the impact of anthropogenic land use. For instance, a riparian buffer near a roadway reduces traffic noise, air and water pollution, as well as provides a space for organisms to abound in the area.
Word origin: riparian + buffer.
See also: ecological buffer zone