Conservation buffers are strips of vegetation placed in the landscape to influence ecological processes and provide a variety of goods and services to us. They are called by many names, including wildlife corridors, greenways, windbreaks, and filter strips to name just a few (fig. 1).

Benefits that conservation buffers provide to us include protecting soil resources, improving air and water quality, enhancing fish and wildlife habitat, and beautifying the landscape. In addition, buffers offer landowners an array of economic opportunities including protection and enhancement of existing enterprises.

A large body of scientific knowledge exists to help guide the planning and designing of buffers. Unfortunately, this information is widely dispersed throughout the vast repositories of research literature and is not easily accessible or usable for most planners.

The purpose of this publication is to provide a synthesis of this diverse knowledge base into distilled, easy-to-understand design guidelines.

Figure 1

Figure 1 — Conservation buffers in an agricultural landscape.