Funding for Dee to save salmon and reduce flooding impacts

River Dee managers and conservation groups have welcomed funding for a major project to boost threatened salmon stocks in the short-term and provide long-term protection for the species.

The Glen Clunie River & Floodplain Restoration Project is also expected to reduce the impact of flooding in a part of the system which saw devastation to homes and businesses during Storm Frank.

Through their Nature Restoration Fund, NatureScot has approved funding of over £209,000 towards the project in the major Clunie tributary, above Braemar.

The project, being led by the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board in partnership with local land managers, will involve re-engineering of river flows using wind-blown trees anchored to the riverbed, mirroring natural processes in healthy habitats. These structures are proven to have an immediate benefit, helping to produce ideal conditions for salmon to lay their eggs, providing shelter from predators, and a source of food for the young fish by boosting invertebrate numbers.

Funding of over £209,000 towards the project in the major Clunie tributary, above the village of Braemar has been approved.

The project also involves the planting of more native trees by the riverside, providing vital shade in the longer term against rising water temperatures which are already threatening the future of the Dee’s iconic salmon stocks.

The addition of large numbers of big tree-root structures will dampen the river’s destructive energy during major flooding events. This will not prevent the kind of devastation seen during Storm Frank in 2015, but it will help reduce the impact of future flooding by dissipating some of the water’s force.

Sandy Bremner, Chair of the River Dee Trust, said: “This announcement is great news at a deeply worrying time for Scotland’s dwindling salmon stocks. It will help us deliver urgently on our ambitious plans to boost salmon numbers in the short term. The Clunie restoration project is also a part of our Million Trees Campaign, without which our precious salmon will succumb to rising water temperatures in the years ahead.

“The project will help the entire ecosystem, while providing at least some relief from the impacts of major flood events which we are being warned to expect more frequently.”The funding announcement comes in the wake of Government figures, revealing Scotland’s salmon catches have fallen to the lowest levels ever recorded.

The national conservation body Fisheries Management Scotland has issued an urgent Call to Action, urging all members of the public to lobby their MSPs, pressing for the Government to act immediately on a range of pressures, from protecting water quality to reducing predation.

Find out more at fms.scot/our-wild-salmon-call-to-action/Biodiversity Minister, Lorna Slater, said: “We know that transformative change is needed to protect and restore terrestrial, freshwater and marine biodiversity in Scotland. That’s why we established the £65 million Nature Restoration Fund for projects that help Scotland's species, woodlands, rivers and seas.

“These diverse, innovative projects are already bringing benefits across the country - not only to the environment, but also to the health and wellbeing of local communities."