Our current focus is on delivering projects which restore natural form and function in modified watercourses and enhance river corridor habitats, benefitting biodiversity and improving resilience to climate change.
Delliefure Burn Floodplain Restoration
The Delliefure Burn is a relatively small tributary on the north side of the Spey about four miles downstream of Grantown-on-Spey. We wanted to improve a reach of approximately 330m which had been historically straightened and embanked, resulting in degraded physical and ecological diversity in the channel and a disconnect between the burn and its flood plain. Delivered in September 2021, the project restored the hydrological connection with the flood plain by lowering sections of the embankment, and created new and improved habitat both in the water course and on the flood plain itself. The overall effect of holding water in the sub-catchment for longer periods will contribute to reducing flood peaks downstream and act as a reservoir to supplement base flows under drought conditions.
River Calder Restoration: Riparian Woodland Creation
During the winter and spring of 2020/21 we delivered a second project in Glen Banchor creating riparian woodland along a 4.5km stretch of the River Calder. We deer fenced three separate enclosures along the river totalling 22ha, and installed water gates constructed to an innovative design robust enough to cope with the frequent high flows and challenging upland environment. A range of native tree species were planted, and some natural regeneration is expected from nearby seed sources. In time the new woodland will add to the food supply for fish and other river life, stabilise the banks against excessive erosion, and form new habitat for birds and other woodland life in this relatively bare upland glen. The woodland will also help mitigate the effects of climate change, keeping water temperatures under control by shading, and slowing the flow of flood waters downstream to help reduce flood risk. In future the trees will be a source of more dead wood in the channel to replace the Large Wood Structures we installed in 2020. Together the two projects should make a lasting difference on a landscape scale in Glen Banchor.
River Calder Restoration: Habitat Enhancement
In August 2020 we installed Large Wood Structures (LWS) along a 1.6km reach of the upper River Calder, a major upland tributary of the Spey. Poor salmonid juvenile productivity had been linked to sub-optimal substrate and sediment processes thought to be partially due to the lack of riparian woodland and consequent absence of dead wood in the channel. The installed LWS will mimic natural dead wood and kickstart hydro-morphological processes to increase natural erosion and deposition, encouraging formation of higher quality, more diverse habitats in the channel, improving river ecology, water quality and flood risk mitigation. By November salmon redds were already being observed around the new structures – an encouraging early result!
Aviemore Spey Access Point Enhancement
In partnership with Aviemore Community Enterprise Company, Reidhaven Estates and others, SCI carried out repair, stabilisation and enhancement of a popular but increasingly degraded area of the river bank used for boat launching and recreation. Natural materials and willow spiling were utilised to achieve a robust, sustainable solution, ensuring the area remains safe and attractive for all users in future. The work was completed in November 2019.
Kinchurdy Farm Riparian Woodland Creation
Poaching by cattle and sheep along a stretch of the Spey between Boat of Garten and Aviemore was causing the banks to become heavily eroded in places, leading to diffuse pollution from sediment being washed into the river. Intensive grazing was preventing growth of new trees and plants, and the bare ground was making the problem of sediment runoff worse. Thanks to funding from Reidhaven Estate and the Cairngorms National Park Authority, around 4.5 km of bank have been stock fenced to keep livestock back from the river, and alternative watering for animals installed. Planting of native broadleaf trees has linked with existing woodland to create, in time, a riverside woodland habitat corridor 7 km long – good news for wildlife, keeping the river cool and improving water quality.
Read more here.
River Avon catchment fish barrier easement
As part of the Tomintoul and Glenlivet Landscape Partnership Project, three man-made structures were identified which were restricting salmon and trout migrating upstream to spawning grounds in the upper catchment. In 2018, two barriers at road bridges were modified by putting in low timber stepped weirs, forming a ‘staircase’ which fish can easily move through. A farm track culvert was replaced with a much more fish-friendly design at a third location. In total 9km of extra breeding habitat has been opened up – a real boost to struggling salmon populations.
Read more here
Delagyle Backwater Channel Re-watering
In spring 2018 an artificially blocked-off side channel of the River Spey near Aberlour was re-connected to the river. New, good quality habitat is now being formed by the restored flow in the 200m channel and we expect rare Freshwater pearl mussels and a host of other river species to be moving in. The channel also provides valuable refuge for juvenile salmon during high flows, whilst thanks to the culvert under the bank, anglers can carry on enjoying the popular nearby pool unaffected.
See the report here.
Allt Lorgy River Restoration Project.
This pioneering river restoration project delivered in 2012 restored the morphology and habitats of an artificially straightened and embanked section of the Allt Lorgy, a tributary of the River Dulnain in the Spey catchment.