Ambitious plans to restore spring salmon on the River Dee

A multi-million-pound project has been launched to restore the River Dee for future generations.
The upper tributary of the Dee, an important spawning ground and nursery for the iconic spring salmon.The upper tributary of the Dee, an important spawning ground and nursery for the iconic spring salmon.
The upper tributary of the Dee, an important spawning ground and nursery for the iconic spring salmon.

The 20-year scheme is aimed at saving threatened species including the river’s iconic spring-run Atlantic salmon.

It will also reduce the impacts of floods and droughts, benefitting all wildlife and communities, and it will involve the use of cutting-edge science.

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The project is called “Save the Spring” and is supported by the leading organisations, the Atlantic Salmon Trust, the River Dee Trust, and the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board.

It will deliver short-term benefits for the river as well as long-term measures to tackle the impacts of the growing climate and biodiversity loss crises.

The plans are announced amid concerns that Atlantic salmon may be heading towards endangered status in Britain, and closer to home the River Dee has had its poorest salmon season on record this year.

Dr Lorraine Hawkins, River Dee Director said: “We must take urgent action to help preserve our wild salmon stocks, particularly the Dee’s iconic population of spring-run salmon, and this requires landscape-scale catchment restoration and the use of some pioneering techniques.

"We are acting at the scale needed to secure a long-term future for the species."

Professor Melanie Smith from the Atlantic Salmon Trust said: “We all need to be focused on restoring salmon and their habitat at a catchment-scale if they are to overcome the challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change, as well as how we can use the most up-to-date translocation methods to save the most at-risk populations.

"This is arguably one of the most important projects to be launched for decades, and one which may act as a future blueprint for salmon restoration across Scotland.”

The detailed plans for the first five years of the programme will include developing monitored landscape-scale habitat restoration, trialing novel conservation methods to boost numbers of the most vulnerable genetic components of the salmon population, investigating pressures as the fish transition between the river and sea, monitoring, and engaging with stakeholders and communities.

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There will be a chance for the public to learn more about how this programme is developing.

Debbie Cooper, the Dee’s Development & Promotions Officer said: “We will hold an in-person event for people to come and meet the team and ask questions about this pioneering work and how it can help restore the river, and also online events, as it is important to share our vision with as many people as possible.”

Please check the website for details on this later.

In order to press ahead with these ambitious plans, the team are seeking an experienced project manager with a science background to head up the initiative as Programme Co-Ordinator.

If this is of interest then please contact [email protected].

For further informtion on The River Dee Trust visit