Looking downstream on the River Cree
Looking upstream on the River Bladnoch
Felling of commercial forestry in Galloway Forest Park
Looking upstream on the River Luce
North American Signal Crayfish
The sandy beach at Loch Grannoch
Belted Galloway Cattle, or 'Belties'
Fly fishing on the River Cree
A small upland burn
The High Cree, looking towards Cairnsmore of Fleet
A small waterfall on the Buchan Burn
A salmon from the Kirkcudbrightshire Dee
In 2005 the River Bladnoch, Tarf Water and key spawning tributaries were designated as a "Special Area of Conservation" (SAC) by the European Union for its internationally important population of Atlantic salmon.
In August 2004, an application for funding for the Bladnoch as part of a larger EU LIFE project entitled "Conservation of Atlantic Salmon in Scotland" (CASS) which covered 8 SAC rivers, was accepted by the European Union. Half of the cost of the project was met by LIFE, the EU financial instrument assisting with the conservation of natural habitats and species under the Natura 2000 network, with the remainder covered by Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Government, GFT, Forestry Commission (Scotland) and the Bladnoch District Salmon Fishery Board.
The CASS project was focused towards conserving and enhancing Atlantic salmon. The project was the single largest salmon conservation project ever undertaken in Scotland and had a budget of over £3m. The 8 rivers involved in the project hold nearly 40% of Scotland's Atlantic salmon resource.
On the Bladnoch, extensive works worth around £300,000 were completed between 2004 and 2008. The project involved undertaking a detailed monitoring and research programme covering water quality analysis, egg box experiments, analysis of scale samples, electrofishing/habitat surveys and extensive research of the smolt population.
A wide range of practical enhancements were completed across important spawning and juvenile nursery areas. Instream and riparian enhancement works included:
1. The planting of deciduous trees over 21 km of river bank.
2. Fencing off 5.5 km of overgrazed banks.
3. Control of excessive erosion along 500 m of river bank.
4. Improving 36,000 m2 of instream fish access and habitat through rock placement and removal of blockages from the watercourses.
A hatchery programme focusing on the headwaters of the catchment was undertaken. Between 2004 and 2008, almost 300,000 salmon fry were stocked into the Bladnoch catchment.
Other improvements include approximately 39 Ha of coniferous plantations being clearfelled and chipped, in order to improve water chemistry and the adjacent riparian habitat.
The last remaining netting rights on the River Bladnoch were also secured by the River Bladnoch District Salmon Fishery Board on a 99 year lease as part of the CASS project. The Kirwaugh net fishery had an annual average catch of 375 salmon per season, which included the capture of spring salmon. The lease of these rights will now allow more salmon to return to the river to spawn.
In 2010, the CASS Project received the 'Best of the Best LIFE Nature' award one of 5 winners out of 73 LIFE projects.
For more information see www.snh.org.uk/salmonLIFEproject/.