This study develops an integrated economic, hydrologic, and ecological modelling framework to examine cost-effective targeting of riparian buffers to achieve water quality and wildlife habitat benefits. The framework is empirically applied to the Canagagigue Creek watershed in Ontario, Canada to compare the economic costs for establishing riparian buffers under three alternative environmental and ecological constraints: sediment abatement only, habitat improvement only, and riparian buffer acreage only. The results show that riparian buffers targeted for achieving sediment abatement goal are not effective in improving habitat quality. Similarly, riparian buffers identified through habitat improvement goal achieve less sediment abatement as compared to those targeted in the sediment abatement scenario. The trade-offs suggest that agricultural stewardship programmes with joint water quality and habitat improvement goals may need to allocate funds independently for targeting two pools of riparian buffers: for improving water quality only or for improving habitat only.
This research is jointly supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs, and the Canadian Water Network. We thank the Grand River Conservation Authority and AGRICORP for providing data, Saleh Sebti for research assistance, and Marie Puddister for designing figures.