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
A key objective of the Galloway Fisheries Trust is to improve water quality to allow native fish populations to live in all available waters. Acidification of the Galloway uplands has had major impacts on the fish populations across the headwaters of many of the Galloway rivers.
Peat lands were a key component of the natural hydrology of the upper River Bladnoch. The extensive areas of peat helped in the past to regulate surface run off of rain water giving longer floods which were less extreme. These longer but lower flood events suited fish migration and angling. The extensive drainage undertaken prior to planting with Sitka spruce on peat land habitats results in accelerated run off of water and shorter but higher downstream flood events. The drying of the upper layers of peat also allows oxidation to take place resulting in more acidic conditions. This is in addition to the scavenging effects from mature Sitka spruce causes further acidification of surrounding waters.
Over the last 6 months the GFT have completed stage 1 of an ambitious peat land restoration project on Kilquhockadale Flow on the upper Bladnoch catchment. The ‘Solway Tweed River Basin Management Plan 2009’ stated that 75.24 km of the upper Bladnoch and tributaries suffered from acidification. Although there has been some improvements in pH in recent years, acidification is still a significant problem. GFT see the deforestation and restoration of natural peat lands as key to addressing acidification.
The Kilquhockadale Flow, which covers an area of 1386 ha is presently extensively planted with conifers. As many of these trees are to be felled over the next few years this presents an important opportunity to amend forestry restructuring management plans to better take into consideration the wider environment. The Forestry Commission now recognise the importance of peat in terms of biodiversity, habitat provision, water quality and carbon cycling. For informed decisions to be made; further information was needed across the whole site and we have been collecting specific data here since October 2014. The surveys carried out aimed to help in the prioritising of key habitats for protection, to understand what changes in forest design is required and to understand the existing drainage network so water retention on the site can be maximised. The project also aimed to understand better how these degraded peat lands are influencing water quality of the upper (SAC designated) Bladnoch catchment.