Sunday, May 29, 2022
NewsEnvironmentNew funding flows into Scottish rivers

New funding flows into Scottish rivers

SCOTLANDS rivers, lochs and wetlands, are being restored thanks to support from NatureScot’s biodiversity challenge fund.

Over the past three years, the Scottish Government has invested £3.7m in freshwater and river restoration projects across the country.

The 27 projects that received investment are using innovative, nature-based solutions to help reverse biodiversity loss and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Trees being planted along the river Lairg credit - Forth Rivers Trust
Trees being planted along the banks of the river Lairg as part of a restoration project. (C) Forth Rivers Trust.

Some major achievements include the planting 78,000 native trees along riverbanks to stabilise them and prevent erosion and flooding.

The new trees also provide a source of shade and nutrients for native species such as Atlantic salmon, brown trout and freshwater pearl mussels.

One of the largest funding awards of £330k was made to the Forth Rivers Trust to restore and improve the headwaters of the River Teith catchment.

The River Teith catchment is classified as a special area of conservation.

As well as using large pieces of wood to stabilise the river bank this project planted 8,000 trees along 8kms of the River Lairg in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.

The project was completed last week, with partners and volunteers coming together to plant the final trees.

In the inner Forth, 110 hectares of wetland habitat has been improved to increase the connectivity, quality and resilience of four wetland areas.

Creating new ponds and pools, hedging and improved habitat features add to the biodiversity of the sites and provide a refuge for wildlife.

In the Cairngorms, 32 hectares of new and improved breeding and nesting habitat has been created for wading birds, including curlew, oystercatcher and lapwing as part of the Cairngorms wetland project.

More than 100 large bundles of logs and trees with roots attached were put into tributaries of the Dee, the rivers Gairn and Muick and also the river Lairg creating new habitat and food.

This provided cover for fish and enhanced the diversity of river channels, in addition, more than 4km of new meandering watercourse has been created and river channels reconnected.

NatureScot Chief Executive Francesca Osowska said: “Through the Biodiversity Challenge Fund, we and our partners have made significant progress to restore our rivers, lochs and wetlands.

“The incredible amount of work to improve the River Teith catchment will make a positive, lasting difference to the many species of wildlife it supports.

“We still have a long way to go, as we face the nature and climate crisis.

“But through the Scottish Government’s new Nature Restoration Fund, we’ll be able to support many more large-scale projects to help put Scotland’s rivers back on the road to recovery.”

Forth Rivers Trust Director Alison Baker said: “Creating an environment in which our native fish can thrive is of paramount importance if we are to ensure that we do not lose these iconic species, including Atlantic salmon, trout (both resident and migratory), lamprey and eels.

“These species are declining due to impacts of land use as well as the threats of climate change.

“The Larig, as the headwaters of the Teith system, is vital for spawning and juvenile fish as well as supporting the ecosystem and wildlife throughout the catchment.

“The work will also start the process of making the river more resilient to an ever-changing climate due to global warming.

“This project is vital for the restoration and protection of nature for future generations to come.”

Simon Jones, Director of Environment for Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority, said: “The stark reality of the nature crisis means urgent collective action is required to reverse biodiversity loss and to restore nature at scale.

“Here in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, we have been investing in tree planting and invasive species removal work with Forth Rivers Trust in the Forth and Teith catchments since 2019.

“The River Larig project is an excellent example of collective action on the ground and we will continue to support the project with both funding and volunteers.”

The Scottish Government’s new £65m Nature Restoration Fund takes over from the Biodiversity Challenge Fund, backing projects that fight the nature loss and climate crisis.

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