Building Living Riverbanks

March 05, 2019

In order to protect recently planted trees on the banks of the Dee at Invercauld, not far from Braemar Castle, Dee Salmon Fishery Board staff have been using live, locally sourced willow to stabilise areas of rapidly eroding banks.  

Live willow stakes are first driven into the bank toe at regular intervals, willow branches are then roughly woven around the posts, to eventually cover the bank face. The woven willow forms a strong living bank that not only protects the bank from further erosion and topsoil loss but also provides food, shade and cover for fish and other wildlife. 

This work is carried out entirely by hand without the need for large machinery, so works can be undertaken at a relatively low cost. Unlike using rock to repair riverbanks, using willow diffuses the flow of water at the bank rather than deflecting the flow elsewhere, which can lead to further erosion.

Get Involved

Dee staff plan to do further sections on the main river and in some of the spawning tributaries each spring. Anyone wishing to get involved with this type of work please get in touch, or call the River Office 013398 80411.


The Dee Salmon Fishery Board have been supported by Invercauld Estate, Leys Estate and local farmers who have allowed us to harvest the significant quantities of willow required for this work.