A Million Trees To Save the River Dee's Salmon

A Million Trees To Save the River Dee's Salmon

Lorraine Hawkins ,
25 Feb 2020

Dr Lorraine Hawkins is the River Director for the River Dee Trust. Here she discusses the aims of a project designed to tackle a decline in salmon numbers by planting 1,000,000 trees.


On the North East’s River Dee, the Fishery Trust and Fishery Board have announced plans to plant a million native trees in what will be one of the biggest nature restoration projects in the Cairngorms.

Planted along river banks, 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.

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.

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. Fundraising for the £5.5 million needed to achieve this has now begun.

To find out more about how trees will help save salmon, and the other habitat restoration measures enlisted for immediate benefits, join in SLE’s Walk & Talk event on Invercauld Estate on 6th May.