A Million Trees to Save Our Salmon

January 30, 2020



The River Dee Trust has announced plans to plant a million native trees in one of the biggest nature restoration projects in the Cairngorms. The project will recreate areas of landscape that have been lost for 2000 years.

The trees will help prevent a repetition of the high river temperatures which damaged young salmon stocks on the Upper Dee two years ago. They will provide nutrition and shelter for all river species. And they will encourage a wide range of wildlife to thrive in one of Scotland’s most stunning landscapes.

The £5.5 million project is being led by the Trust with the support of the Dee District Salmon Fishery Board.

River Dee Director Dr Lorraine Hawkins said: “Atlantic salmon are now virtually extinct across their southern European range and are vanishing fast in the south of England. All the major Scottish salmon rivers have seen drastic declines. At current rates, we may have just 20 years to save the species.

“We know there are catastrophic losses at sea. Those factors must be tackled urgently. But we can take action now to give the young fish their best chance of survival before leaving their native rivers.

“Several current projects should produce immediate benefits. But we must also provide shade against more of the extreme temperatures we have been told to expect, while restoring a whole ecosystem that’s been degraded over many centuries. This will help our threatened salmon, and all wildlife will benefit.

“Of all the major Scottish rivers, the Dee is especially vulnerable to extreme temperatures because of its land use. We are determined to do everything we can to help nature help itself.”

The Trust and Board have already planted nearly 200,000 native trees along tributaries, working together with landowners including those on the Balmoral and Invercauld estates. The aim is to double the current rate of planting and reach the million-tree target within 15 years.

The main species are alder, willow, rowan, birch, aspen and Scots pine, which would have been common in the landscape thousands of years ago.

The announcement is being made in the build-up to the opening of the 2020 River Dee salmon fishing season on Saturday, February 1. This year’s ceremony will be performed by the actor, singer and celebrity angler Robson Green.

This year will also see the launch of a festival, A Celebration of the Living River, which features interactive stalls, a film screening, children’s casting competitions, a schools’ art exhibition and other attractions. It will be held on the afternoon of Saturday, February 1, in the grounds of Banchory Lodge Hotel between 1400 and 1600. Admission is free.