There are natural and human-caused activities that affect water quality and availability, including extreme weather events, wildfires, and changes in land use. Clearing forests and developing land for residential, commercial, or industrial uses can negatively influence water quality. One effective tool for helping to slow the speed of and filter pollutants out of the water is to establish healthy riparian forest buffer zones along streams and other waterbodies.
No matter what type of landowner you are – forest landowner, farmer, homeowner – you have a role in protecting water quality for all Virginians. Consider your forest, agricultural, farming, and landscaping practices and the impact they have on water quality. There are many actions we can take, such as planting riparian forest buffers along waterways, maintaining vegetation cover, planting trees, and more.
- Pre-harvest planning
- Plant riparian forest buffers
- Water protection on farms
- Best management practices for water quality
- Stormwater management for landowners
- Riparian Forest Buffer Tax Credit
- Financial assistance programs for water quality protection
Get help with protecting water on your forestland.
A variety of financial assistance programs are available through DOF and partner agencies for forest management activities to help protect water quality.
|Forests and Water – Get the Most Out of Your Land||P00211|
Publication is directed to landowners to educate about forest buffers, stream water quality, watersheds, riparian buffer tax credit program and other programs that can assist. Printed copies available.
|National Timber Tax Website|
The National Timber Tax Website was developed to be used by timberland owners, as well as a reference for accountants, attorneys, consulting foresters and other professionals who work with timberland owners regarding the tax treatment of timber related activities.
|Plan Your Forest’s Future||P00205|
Brochure provides information regarding the responsibility of owning forestland and the importance of planning your forest’s future, conserving your forestland, forest planning options, types of plans, elements of a plan, and benefits of a plan. Printed copies available.
|Riparian Forest Buffers – Forests on the Water’s Edge||P00140|
Publication is the effort of the Chesapeake Bay Program, including multiple states within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, to educate the community leaders and the public about the benefits of riparian forest Buffers, their importance to watersheds for air quality, water quality and fish and wildlife habitat, forest Buffer losses and how we manage growth in riparian zones, how to maintain quality riparian forest Buffers, efforts in riparian forest restoration, and what you can do for forest Buffers. Printed copies available.
|Services for Landowners||P00112|
Brochure provides information about the services available to landowners from the Virginia Department of Forestry, including forest management and forest health, timber harvesting and water quality, land conservation, tree seedling production, and resource protection. Printed copies available.
|Publication||View||fire-and-emergency-response forest-health forest-management forestland-conservation nurseries urban-and-community-forestry water-quality||publication|
|The Woods in Your Backyard – A Practitioner’s Guide for Creating, Enhancing, and Maintaining Natural Areas|
This 108-page guide, including more than 100 color photos, was developed by University of Maryland Extension, Penn State Extension and Virginia Cooperative Extension. It guides small-acreage owners through the process of implementing proper forestry and wildlife habitat improvement practices to enhance a property’s natural resources. Available for purchase.
|The Woods in Your Backyard Program – Resources|
This resource list provides descriptions and links to a number of valuable resources available for small-acreage landowners in managing their woods. Provided by The Woods in Your Backyard Program Partnership, Virginia Department of Forestry and Virginia Cooperative Extension.
|Timber Harvesting and Water Quality||P00132|
Brochure educates landowners and harvesters about the impact of timber harvesting on water quality and the steps required to maintain compliance with applicable laws during pre-harvest planning, harvesting and tract closeout after harvesting. Printed copies available.
|Woodland Health Assessment – Checklist and Management Actions|
This assessment is part of the Woodland Health Practices Handbook: A Practitioner’s Guide to Creating, Enhancing, and Maintaining Natural Areas but also available separately to assist green industry professionals and do-it-yourselfers in assessing a variety of conditions on the site and recommending management actions.
|Woodland Health Practices – A Field Guide|
This pocket-sized quick-reference guide assists managers in the field with implementing land-care practices. This 68-page, full-color resource is a distillation of the Woodland Health Practices Handbook: A Practitioner’s Guide to Creating, Enhancing, and Maintaining Natural Areas. Available for purchase.
|Woodland Health Practices Handbook – A Practitioner’s Guide for Creating, Enhancing, and Maintaining Natural Areas|
This 85-page guide, including more than 60 color photos, provides an overview of land management techniques, checklist and management action tables, glossary and index. Available for purchase.
|Woodland Health Practices Handbook Webinar Series Recordings|
A four-part webinar series covering the information in the Woodland Health Practices Handbook was held in fall 2020 and an eight-part series in spring 2021. Webinar recordings of this series is available here.
DOF foresters can assist you with protecting water on your forestland. Contact your local DOF forester.