Annual Conference 2024: Embracing River Buffers

The Rivers Trust’s Annual Conference in 2024 will be centred on river buffers, the nature-based solution which restores harmony between land and water.


Whilst Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are starting to be widely recognised as an essential tool for tackling the climate and biodiversity crises, there is a long way to go before they become part and parcel of our landscape. Unlike carbon-intensive grey infrastructure, NbS work with, not against, nature to deliver multiple benefits for the environment and people. Of the many large and small-scale NbS interventions, riparian buffer zones – also known as river buffers – are arguably the most versatile.


We often refer to rivers as the backbone of the landscape because they simultaneously support all activity that happens on land and are impacted by it. Riparian buffers push harmful activities away from the riverbank, making space for water and for further restoration. That could be planting or regenerating natural vegetation (native grasses, shrubs and trees), or more ambitious re-wiggling, wetland restoration, riverside meadows, small ponds, or even the reintroduction of beavers to further adapt the river corridor.


These measures all help to restore the natural processes that we have lost and make our river corridors fit for the future, ready to deal with an increasing uncertain climate future, mitigating climate and pollution impacts, such as:


  • Intercepting sediment and other pollutants than run off the land;
  • Providing habitat for wildlife;
  • Keeping the river cool;
  • Reducing erosion and stabilising riverbanks;
  • Slowing the flow to alleviate the risk of floods and drought.

The positive impacts of river buffers increase exponentially if they are installed at a landscape scale to create a joined-up mosaic of habitats, but there are still barriers to overcome for land managers to be able to achieve this without losing out on land value.


In this online conference, we will explore the experience we have across the movement on river buffers. We would like to hear more about the growing evidence base on the value of river buffers, as well as posing and helping to answer crucial questions about how we can pay for, deliver, and maintain them locally, as well as at the scale required to mitigate the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss.


We are keen to present a diverse conference line-up featuring voices from the Rivers Trust movement, the wider environmental sector, industry, landowners, governance, and campaigners. If you have experience of buffers and would like to share them, please get in touch. Whether it’s a presentation, panel discussion, or something else, we’re open to all ideas. Click here to find out more about our call for submissions.

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