Scotland’s rivers and streams cover a remarkable 125,000km – more than 12 times the length of the country’s mainland coastline.
River woodland restoration offers a multitude of benefits. These woodlands act as natural filters, reducing diffuse pollution, and the shade from trees regulates water temperature, essential for aquatic species like Atlantic salmon. They contribute to climate resilience through carbon storage and sequestration and help mitigate floods by forming natural dams that slow water flow. In times of drought, they maintain soil moisture and cool the environment. The roots of river trees provide shelter for river life and stabilize stream banks, reducing erosion and enhancing soil quality. Additionally, these woodlands support mental and physical health and aid food production by sheltering livestock and boosting pollinator numbers.
In 2016, Riverwoods partner, SEPA conducted a survey and found only 17% of Scotland’s riverside habitat was in good condition. The rest is degraded with little or no tree cover. Given the important role of river woodlands in protecting Scotland’s ecosystems, its current condition is highly concerning. River woodlands across Scotland face threats including over-grazing, pollution, and the introduction of invasive exotic species.
Working in partnership with the Riverwoods initiative, SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, commissioned by the Fishmongers’ Company’s Charitable Trust, have produced a collection of short films and stories showcasing the work of the many people committed to restoring the health of Scotland’s threatened rivers, through a range of practical interventions. The real-life case studies feature landowners, gamekeepers and fisheries experts already carrying out work, such as expanding river woodlands, restoring degraded peatlands, and reconnecting water courses with their natural flood plains.
Mike Thornton, Riverwoods Project Manager said: “Riverwoods is a wide partnership, and we are always looking to inspire new projects. Through showcasing existing success stories and sharing best practice, we aim to show that restoration is not only possible but also financially viable and well-supported.”
Through the online films and accompanying articles, the campaign aims to inspire landowners to take practical action to restore life and health to Scotland’s rivers.
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Scotland’s rivers and streams cover a remarkable 125,000km – more than 12 times the length of the country’s mainland coastline. River woodland restoration offers a multitude of benefits. These woodlands …