by Sarah Hagan, Virginia Department of Forestry
When you picture a riparian forest buffer what pops into your head? Neatly mowed rows of trees protected by Tubex tree tubes? We’ve been planting those types of forest buffers for so long it’s hard to conceptualize anything else. But what if you could establish a buffer for a fraction of the cost without having to plant a single tree? Natural forest succession happens when we leave a site undisturbed – grass and weeds turn to shrubs, shrubs turn to trees, and eventually we have a forest. A forester’s job is to help manipulate that natural cycle and speed the process along.