Three river woodland planting projects delivered

Three ‘shovel-ready’ river woodland planting projects have been completed as part of the Development Phase of the Riverwoods Blueprint Project. Led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the funding was awarded to projects along the River Peffrey, River Spey and River Oykel. Each project exemplifies innovative river woodland restoration techniques across a variety of landscapes and ownership models, including private and public lands, as well as forestry and agricultural settings.

© The Woodland Trust
© The Woodland Trust, Balliefurth Farm, River Spey

River Peffery – Headwater Seed Islands
In response to significant flooding in Dingwall, Lockett Agri-Environmental initiated a forward-thinking catchment scale restoration project, utilising nature-based solutions to reduce flood risks and enhance local ecosystems.

The River Peffery – Headwater Seed Islands initiative is a key component of this expansive project. Set to transform two kilometres of riparian zones adjacent to conifer plantation, this initiative.

© Richard Lockett, River Peffrey

This novel approach will allow effective evaluation of the impact of herbivores on tree survival and the potential for natural regeneration. Despite the low deer population in the area, the absence of a native seed source has historically hindered natural regeneration. This project represents a significant step forward in addressing these challenges.

Richard Lockett, from Lockett Agri-Environmental, shared his vision for the project: “The upper stretches of the River Peffery are critically devoid of native riparian woodland, a condition we are determined to reverse. By introducing a diverse array of tree species along the riverbanks, we aim to jumpstart the natural regeneration process.”

River Spey – Balliefurth Riparian Planting

Balliefurth Farm, a prominent livestock operation nestled beside the River Spey, is embarking on an ambitious environmental restoration project aimed at reintroducing lost tree species and fostering woodland establishment along the riverbank.

Confronted with the challenge of securing funding for long and narrow riparian planting projects—which are often ineligible under current Forestry Grant Scheme (FGS) models— farm owners Patrick and Abby Harrison explored alternative funding avenues. Through perseverance they achieved a stacked funding model, combining contributions from the Cairngorms Trust Nature Restoration Fund, the Woodland Trust, and Riverwoods.

Farm business owner, Patrick Harrison expressed his enthusiasm for the project’s progress: “One of our primary goals at Balliefurth is to bolster biodiversity through strategic tree planting on our farm’s less productive areas. Not only will this initiative enhance riverbank stability, but it will also provide much-needed shade for salmon in the River Spey. We are delighted that this project has got off the ground so quickly.”

Trees planted along the river Spay
© The Woodland Trust, Balliefurth Farm, River Spey

The Balliefurth riparian planting project is set to deliver a wide array of environmental benefits, including the creation of vital habitats and nesting sites for riparian wildlife such as the goldeneye. The project aims to significantly reduce riverbank erosion and channel siltation, benefiting the wellbeing of aquatic invertebrates and spawning grounds of salmonids. Furthermore, the project is designed to maintain access for fishermen, canoeists, and other users of the River Spey, preserving the natural beauty of the area for all to enjoy.

With a forward-looking approach, the project includes tree species that accommodate future beaver populations through coppicing and will attract pollinators in the spring. Additionally, the introduction of willow species along fence lines aims to supply natural fodder for livestock, thereby reducing the need for pharmaceutical interventions and promoting a more natural and sustainable form of agriculture.

© The Woodland Trust, Balliefurth Farm, River Spey

This project exemplifies the synergy between agriculture and conservation, demonstrating how innovative funding solutions and thoughtful planning can lead to both environmental and socio-economic benefits.

River Oykel – Benmore Riparian Planting

The Kyle of Sutherland, located in the Highlands, is one of Scotland’s most susceptible regions to increasing freshwater temperatures. Soaring water temperatures are an existential threat to salmon populations. Not only are salmon a keystone species in the freshwater system, the local economy is dependent on salmon angling and its contribution to the tourism industry. The Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust have rolled out its ambitious Kyle Riverwoods project to provide shade and cool the waters.

Unplanted riparian strips are a common sight among the large conifer plantations in this region and beyond. This piece of the project, on the privately owned Benmore Estate, marks a significant milestone as part of the Kyle of Sutherland’s larger plans. Located along the River Oykel, the project covers 1.3km of riverbank and involved the planting of 2,850 native broadleaf trees abutting spruce plantations.

© Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust, River Oykel
© Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust, River Oykel

Dr. Keith Williams, Director of the Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries, emphasised the project’s multifaceted benefits, stating: “This strategic planting initiative is a game-changer for our region. Not only does it provide essential shading to cool the river waters, safeguarding our salmonid populations against the threat of rising temperatures, but it also serves as a natural filtration process combating the acidification of our watercourses from non-native conifer plantations, thereby preserving the intricate ecological harmony of the area. We’re at a pivotal moment, and we’re optimistic about inspiring more private landowners and estates to take action.”

© Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust, River Oykel
© Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust, River Oykel


Find out more about the benefits of river woodlands here.

Help protect Scotland’s wildlife

Our work to save Scotland’s wildlife is made possible thanks to the generosity of our members and supporters.

Join today from just £3 a month to help protect the species you love.

Join today


Three ‘shovel-ready’ river woodland planting projects have been completed as part of the Development Phase of the Riverwoods Blueprint Project. Led by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and funded by The …

Stay up to date with the Scottish Wildlife Trust by subscribing to our mailing list Subscribe now

Back to top