Project to save under-threat salmon in River Dee wins prestigious award

The campaign designed to cool down water temperatures in the river has earned the Nature and Climate Action Award.

A project to save the threatened salmon population in one of the most famous salmon rivers in the world  won a prestigious award.

Plans to plant a million native trees along the banks of the River Dee in Aberdeenshire hopes to help cool water temperatures, which is vital for the species’ survival.

The River Dee Trust’s Million Trees Campaign won the Nature and Climate Action Award in this year’s Nature of Scotland Awards.

The Trust’s ambitious multi-million pound campaign was launched in 2020 to plant native trees on hundreds of miles of the river’s tributaries.

Almost half a million species such as birch, willow and rowan have already been planted, helping to recreate areas of landscape which have been lost for thousands of years.

They will provide cooling shade to reduce the soaring summer water temperatures that are threatening salmon and the river’s other wildlife.

Operations manager Edwin Third of The Dee District Salmon Fishery told STV News: “Any temperature above 22C and the salmon go into thermal stress.

“They can’t feed, they can’t escape predators and they often pick up disease so warm temperatures are just fatal for salmon.’

Edwin Third of the Dee District Salmon Fishery

“The judges described the campaign as “An incredible project to preserve a precious habitat”.

The Trust hopes the recognition will help raise awareness of the project.

“We have done lots of tree planting here with volunteers and people from the community. We have had lots of school children planting trees and that’s really important.

“We can never save salmon and our rivers with just a handful of fisherman, we have to do it with the whole community,” explained Edwin.

River Dee Trust chair Sandy Bremner said: “This is fantastic recognition for everyone involved – from the men and women who’ve worked through snowstorms to help deliver one of the biggest nature restoration projects in the Cairngorms, to the folk who’ve rattled collecting cans.

“It’s also recognition that we can all take action in the face of a climate crisis.”

Angling on the Dee is worth over £14m a year to the local economy and provides hundreds of jobs.

But this year’s salmon fishing season was the worst on record.

“When I first started here we used to catch 2,000 salmon in the spring. Last year, we caught less than 300 salmon in the spring – that’s a huge and worrying decline,” Edwin added.

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