The River Dee is to receive nearly £500,000 worth of Scottish Government funding to install over 1,000 instream trees that will provide a lifeline to endangered fish.
The Nature Restoration Fund, which is managed by NatureScot, has approved funding of £480,600 towards the installation of over 1,125 of trees.
Led by the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board in partnership with National Trust for Scotland’s Mar Lodge Estate and Abergeldie Estate, it will result in large root plates being anchored into the riverbed or riverbank.
This will form 225 large wood structures, which will allow natural river flows to create a vital healthy habitat and will be located in the important salmon production areas of the upper Dee, including:
- Geldie Burn
- Mainstem of the Dee at Mar Lodge
- Girnock Burn by Abergeldie
The addition of anchored trees has been shown to quickly improve the river’s habitat and increase numbers of threatened young salmon and trout.
Salmon numbers are under threat across Scotland with concerns the species could become extinct without proactive action.
Recent work by the River Dee Trust shows an increase in juvenile fish numbers within a year of structures being installed.
These structures are being placed alongside areas of riverbank trees planted as part of the River Dee Trust’s One Million Trees campaign.
‘Work on a grand scale’
Chairman of the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board, Lawrence Ross, said: “Having confirmed that large woody structures genuinely benefit the numbers of juvenile salmon and trout it is pleasing to be able to undertake this work on a grand scale.
“We are most grateful to the landowners and government funders for their co-operation and support of this astonishing project.”
National Trust for Scotland’s Mar Lodge Estate conservation manager, Shaila Rao, added: “These headwaters of the River Dee are vital to the health of the whole river but the habitat currently has huge scope for improvement.
“Installing large woody structures will enhance the channel diversity vastly improving the freshwater habitat for salmon and many other freshwater species.”
The funding announcement comes in the wake of the Scottish Government’s report last week, which revealed there are low juvenile salmon numbers across Scotland, reflecting the multiple years of low numbers of adult fish returning to the rivers.