Planting Streamside Trees Proves Fruitful
Riparian buffers improve water quality, reduce erosion and produce fruit

Riparian buffers are known for improving water quality, reducing erosion and providing habitat. But these swaths of trees, currently being planted 1,000 strong across Allegheny County, can also produce fruits ready for harvest. Defined as multifunctional buffers, these trees do just that -- function in many ways to improve soil, land and water. This year, we’ll plant two multifunctional buffers in the Douglas Run and Deer Creek Watersheds.

What exactly is a multifunctional buffer?
Traditionally, multifunctional buffers have been as their name entails, a buffer that provides more than one function, such as filtering nutrients and providing wildlife habitat. More recently, a multifunctional riparian forest buffer has been defined as streamside trees that provide opportunities for harvesting products such as nuts, berries, woody florals and forbs.


A new multifunctional buffer in a Deer Creek Watershed housing development will bolster water and soil quality while providing harvestable fruits.
Deer Creek Watershed
In West Deer Township, a stream corridor runs through a new housing development site. In order to set aside this streamside area for fruit and nut trees, our Chapter 105 team offered to apply for grants, design a multifunctional stream buffer and plant a 250’ x 80’ section of the stream if the developer was willing to offer the land.

The developer agreed, and we planted the corridor with Paw Paw, Elderberry and many more tree species. The planted stream buffer will reduce erosion and stormwater runoff while also producing harvestable fruits to be utilized by future residents of the development.


ACCD staff plants fruit and nut trees along a stream in West Deer Township.
Douglas Run Watershed
The second project partners with Allegheny County Parks to plant three areas with fruit and nut trees, woody floral species and maple trees which can be used for future parks programming once the trees are mature.

The Pennsylvania Association of Conservation District’s Multifunctional Buffer Sub-Grant for Conservation Districts provided both grants ACCD received with funding from the Department of Conservation and National Resources.

Follow along as we plant 1,000 trees for Allegheny County streams.