River Dee Trust pushes ahead of target of planting a million trees

A group from Aberdeen with River staff having completed tree planting volunteering.A group from Aberdeen with River staff having completed tree planting volunteering.
A group from Aberdeen with River staff having completed tree planting volunteering.
The River Dee Trust conservation charity and their partners are nearing their half-way milestone of planting a million trees to save endangered salmon and other wildlife.

The river’s ecosystem is facing the threat of dangerously rising water temperatures. The huge community campaign to create cooling shade is well ahead of schedule, but river managers warn they are in a race against time.

Over 460,000 native trees have now been planted along the banks of the River Dee and its tributaries, as part of ambitious plans to plant a million native trees launched in spring 2020.

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The £5.5 milion campaign led by the River Dee Trust with the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board is part of efforts to deliver landscape scale conservation across the eastern Cairngorms.

At the heart of this project is the iconic Atlantic salmon, a native species under threat of extinction. One of the major threats is climate change, which is already impacting Scottish rivers. Salmon will benefit from the shade the trees will provide to cool the water. Last week, The River Dee Trust recorded water temperatures in the Dee of 20°C, much higher than usual for this time of year.

River Director Dr Lorraine Hawkins said: “Atlantic salmon are in crisis, with Scottish Government monitoring showing that salmon populations in some parts of the River Dee catchment are nearly gone. The Dee has had severe floods in recent years and summers are getting hotter and drier; all of which are great challenges for much of our native wildlife.

“It is essential that our rivers have suitable shade and shelter for wildlife to seek refuge from floods, droughts and high temperatures and we will do all that we can to push ahead with our landscape scale restoration plans as quickly as we can, it’s a race against time.”

The number of trees planted brings the project well ahead of the target date of 2035 for getting the first million trees in the ground, with the main species being alder, willow, birch, aspen and Scots pine. This has only been made possible by a huge collaborative effort from the landowners and estates, community groups, local companies, school groups and passionate individuals who have played their part.

If you would like to know more about how you, your local group or company can get involved in the #OneMillionTrees campaign, visit riverdee.org.uk/