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
The protection and restoration of good quality habitat is essential when working to restore healthy native fish populations. The GFT has, for many years, been working across the waters of Galloway to identify degraded habitats and then working to undertake or encourage restoration measures to address the problems.
It is important to consider work programmes at a catchment level, particularly when looking for the causes of degraded habitats. Detailed catchment-wide habitat surveys (GFT have completed full catchment surveys on most rivers in Galloway) help identify, describe and quantify the severity of degraded habitat. Information gained from the surveys allows a list of remedial works to be prioritised which considers where maximum benefit can be gained for the available spend.
Restoration works can be divided into four main types:
1) Improving access for spawning fish: ensuring that spawning fish can access the maximum catchment area for spawning and juvenile habitat is essential. GFT has been working to remove or ease access over man-made barriers to fish migration. Nearly all such barriers have been addressed including breaching Lagafater Dam (Luce); removing dams on the lower Water of App and on a Crosswater of Luce tributary; fitting fish passes to several problematic bridge aprons (Luce, Border Esk, Skyreburn, Cree); construction of a Crump weir (Cree); replacement of an Irish bridge with a stressed timber bridge (Bladnoch) and installing a Denil fish pass (Bladnoch) and modifying an impassible dam on the Clauchrie Burn.
2) Improvement/construction of spawning beds: where spawning beds have been degraded or are limiting salmonid spawning potential, work can be undertaken to enhance or re-create spawning beds. Silted up spawning beds are a common problem which can be loosened or cleaned. Limestone gravel beds have been added in acidified areas to help sensitive salmonid eggs to survive the low pH in the High Cree.
3) Improving instream habitat: the number of fish is closely related to the instream habitat quality. Instream habitats can be degraded by excessive siltation or dredging which has been carried out as part of a drainage scheme. Dredging is particularly damaging as it removes larger substrates and leaves wide, shallow, feature-less instream habitat. GFT has restored several heavily dredged burns and as recovery has continued, has recorded a substantial increase in fish numbers and species. Compacted spawning substrates have been loosened with diggers using a large metal tooth.
4) Improving riparian habitat: riparian management can have important benefits to the surrounding catchment. Watercourses can be damaged by excessive overgrazing by livestock, over shading by bankside trees or the presence of alien plant species. GFT has undertaken much work in managing riparian areas including installing bankside fencing, organising controlled grazing agreements, removal of riparian coniferous forestry and planting deciduous trees in the riparian zone.